Saudi king orders cabinet shakeup amid fallout over Khashoggi killing

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King Salman of Saudi Arabia shook up the kingdom's Cabinet on Thursday, naming new ministers and security chiefs but keeping the levers of power firmly in the hands of his son and designated heir, Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Adel al-Jubeir, the soft-spoken foreign minister since 2015, was replaced by Ibrahim al-Assaf, who was formerly a finance minister.

Jubeir was effectively demoted to minister of state for foreign affairs, the decree added without offering any explanation.

In addition to being Saudi Arabia's long-serving finance minister, Al-Assaf is a member of the board of directors at Saudi Aramco and chairman of the Saudi Fund for Development. Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz was named as the minister for the national guard.


The reshuffle came with the Saudi government trying to deal with intense worldwide pressure over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

King Salman subsequently ordered a restructuring of the main intelligence agency under the supervision of Prince Mohammed, who denies any involvement in the killing.

The changes, which impact several key ministries, come as the king and his son, the crown prince, were looking to announce a major reshuffle following Khashoggi's killing by Saudi agents in Istanbul.

General Kalid bin Qirar al-Harbi was named general security chief, while Musaed al-Aiban was appointed national security adviser.


Al-Assaf had been serving as a minister of state previous year when he was reportedly detained at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh along with dozens of high-ranking officials and princes in an anti-corruption sweep led by the crown prince. This means al-Sheikh no longer oversees a cybersecurity and programming body that was led by Saud al-Qahtani, a close aide to the crown prince who was sacked from his post and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for helping to mastermind the plot that led to Khashoggi's killing.

Saudi Arabia last week slammed as "interference" a US Senate resolution that held Prince Mohammed responsible for the killing, and another that sought to end American military support for the Riyadh-led war in Yemen.

Turki Shabbaneh has been appointed as Minister of Media, while Hamad Al Sheikh was appointed Minister of Education.

Khashoggi was an outspoken critic of the ruling House of Saud.


He is set to maintain his political and security posts after Thursday's reshuffle, including that of defence minister.

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