Economy / Finance, Human Rights, Politics

In Surprise Cabinet Reshuffle, Saudi King Salman Establishes Space Agency, Demotes Foreign Minister

By Tyler Durden* – Zero Hedge

The diplomatic crisis ignited by the killing of Jamal Khashoggi has largely subsided, and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s grip on power is, if anything, even stronger than it was before (having faced down incipient challenges from one of his uncles). Which is why it’s somewhat surprising to see MbS’s ailing father, King Salman, order a limited cabinet reshuffle that moved around some of the key players in the scandal (including Adel al-Jubeir, who was one of the kingdom’s key liaisons with western media during its response to Khashoggi’s killing) and removed Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf al Saud as the Kingdom’s ambassador to the UK, according to Saudi State TV station Al-Arabiya.

Amid the reshuffle, the king ordered the creation of a new political and security council (presumably to help protect his chosen successor’s flank) and – in a move that is reminiscent of a controversial decision made by President Trump this year – establishes a new Saudi space agency.

As a result of the reshuffle, more liberals and progressives will move into positions of power, suggesting that it could be part of the Kingdom’s plan to move ahead with its ‘liberalizing’ reforms to try and rehabilitate MbS’s tarnished reputation as a reformer.

But perhaps the biggest change was apparent demotion of al-Jubeir to the lesser position of minister of state for foreign affairs and moving Ibrahim al-Assaf, formerly the kingdom’s finance minister, to the foreign affairs role. Al-Jubeir played an important role in the Saudis PR response to the Khashoggi killing, and was seen as a stalwart supporter of the Crown Prince.

 

Here’s a roundup of the most important moves:

–Ibrahim al-Assaf appointed as Foreign Minister

–Adel al-Jubeir appointed Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

–Gen. Khalid bin Qirar Al Harbi has been appointed as the head of general security.

–Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz appointed Minister of National Guard

–Turki al-Shabbana appointed Minister of Media

–Hamad Al-Sheikh appointed Minister of Education

–Turki bin Talal has been appointed Governor of Asir in place of Faisal bin Khaled

–Sultan bin Salman moved from the presidency of the Tourism Authority and appointed Chairman of the Space Authority

–Badr bin Sultan has been replaced by Faisal bin Nawaf as Governor of Jouf region

–Musa’ad al-Aiban appointed as National Security Adviser

–Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal has replaced Turki al-Sheikh as president of Saudi’s Sports Authority

–Turki Al-Sheikh has been appointed Chairman of the Entertainment Authority

–Khalid bin Qarar al-Harbi has been appointed the director of Public Security

–Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf al Saud has been recalled as ambassador to the UK (notably after saying he was “concerned” about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi)

But the implications of today’s decision aside, there’s one thing Saudi watchers should keep in mind. Thu, 12/27/2018

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*Zero Hedge in-house content is posted under the pseudonym “Tyler Durden”, however, the founder and main editor was identified as Daniel Ivandjiiski, Bulgarian born, U.S.–based, former investment banker and capital markets trader, and currently financial blogger, who founded the website Zero Hedge in January 2009, and remains its main publisher and editor.

 

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