Saudi king appoints former Ritz-Carlton detainee as foreign minister

Minnie Murray
December 28, 2018

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

King Salman, in a series of royal decrees read on national television, appointed Prince Abdullah bin Bandar bin AbdulAziz as minister for the powerful National Guard and named other princes as provincial rulers.

They come as the king and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir apparent and the man Central Intelligence Agency believes ordered the hit on Khashoggi, are looking to limit the ongoing fallout from his murder.

It may also signal further efforts to show that changes are being made after the U.S. Senate passed a resolution saying it believes the crown prince is to blame for Khashoggi's grisly murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Thursday's decree also called for the establishment of the oil-rich kingdom's first government agency devoted to space exploration, to be headed up by Sultan bin Salman.

Jubeir was demoted to minister of state for foreign affairs, it added.

Al-Jubeir's post was taken by Ibrahim al-Assaf, a long-time finance minister of the Kingdom.

Mr Assaf was detained briefly in the Crown Prince's anti-corruption crackdown last year but was released within weeks of his detention at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel last year.

Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal has replaced Turki Al Sheikh as president of the Sports Authority, while Turki Al Sheikh has been appointed as Chairman of the Entertainment Authority.

Turki Shabbaneh, who has held positions in privately owned Saudi TV channels, was named minister of media. "There is an effort to balance the fast pace of reform with bolstering government procedures and institutions".

Al-Sheikh's appointment as head of entertainment means he no longer oversees a cybersecurity and programming body that was led by Saud al-Qahtani, a close aid to the crown prince who was sacked from his post and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for helping to mastermind the plot in Istanbul that led to Khashoggi's killing.

Al-Jubeir was an adamant champion of the Saudi campaign in Yemen as he repeatedly defended Riyadh's actions as well as the blockade of the country ravaged by conflict and plagued by starvation and cholera epidemic.

His articles in the Washington Post had been particularly critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country's de facto leader.

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