Saudi king appoints new foreign minister in major cabinet reshuffle

Arturo Kim
December 28, 2018

Saudi Arabia's King Salman ordered Thursday a large-scale government reshuffle replacing Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir with longtime Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf.

Al-Jubeir, the soft-spoken foreign minister since 2015, will be demoted to minister of state for foreign affairs.

Al-Assaf had been serving as minister of state, and has held a seat on the boards of oil-giant Saudi Aramaco and the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund.

Badr Bin Sultan has been appointed Deputy Emir of Makkah and Eman Al-Mutairi as assistant minister of commerce.

The reshuffle comes more than two months after the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the kingdom's agents in Turkey.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia has sacked one of Mohammed bin Salman's closest advisers and brought a member of the old guard back in his first cabinet reshuffle since the Khashoggi crisis.

Al-Assaf is well known to worldwide investors, having led several Saudi delegations to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

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Saudi King Salman on Thursday announced a new list of appointees to key positions in the country's political and security council.

General Kalid bin Qirar al-Harbi was named general security chief, while Musaed al-Aiban was appointed national security adviser. 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. After serving as finance minister, he was locked in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton a year ago with hundreds of princes, businessmen and officials in what the government called an anti-corruption campaign.

The CIA reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed ordered Khashoggi's assassination.

Turki Shabbaneh, a Saudi TV presenter, was named minister of media.

Turki al-Sheikh has been moved to a new portfolio heading up the entertainment authority. The force is tasked primarily with the protection of the Al Saud ruling family.

He left in 1989 and became executive director for Saudi Arabia at the World Bank Group for six years before being briefly appointed vice governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency in 1995.

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.

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