Saudi king demotes Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in reshuffle


Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has been demoted in a government reshuffle by the country's leader, King Salman.

The royal decree appoints former Finance Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and assigns former foreign affairs minister Adel Al-Jubeir, to the post of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

In other moves, the Saudi king appointed Prince Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz to replace Prince Miteb bin Abdullah as chief of the National Guard, and ordered a reshuffle of Saudi Arabia's Political and Security Council.

The changes, which come in the wake of worldwide fallout from the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, include naming a new foreign minister.

But the appointment as foreign minister of Assaf, who holds a seat on the boards of state oil giant Aramco and the vast Public Investment Fund, indicates an emphasis on "economic diplomacy" as the kingdom seeks to reassure foreign investors rattled by the Khashoggi crisis, analysts say.

The picture, highly shared on social media, shows the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, standing in the middle with three council members to his left and three others to his right.

Musaed al-Aiban was appointed national security adviser.

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The reshuffle would help the crown prince further "consolidate power" as many of those promoted were his "key allies", tweeted Ali Shihabi, head of the pro-Saudi think tank The Arabia Foundation.

Assaf was released within weeks of his detention at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel previous year after being cleared of wrongdoing and without making any payment to the state, as many others held in the crackdown had to do.

The shakeup comes after Saudi Arabia last week said it was creating government bodies to boost oversight of its intelligence operations, in the wake of Khashoggi's murder.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on October 23, 2018.

Al Jubeir played a key role in putting a face on the Saudi response to Khashoggi's killing at its Istanbul consulate.

Senior U.S. lawmakers have blamed the crown prince the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, a conclusion they said was backed by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Russian Federation has built increasingly close ties to Saudi Arabia since King Salman appointed Prince Mohammed as his heir, turning the 33-year-old into the oil-rich kingdom's de facto ruler. The U.S. Senate passed a unanimous resolution saying it believes the crown prince is to blame, although Saudi Arabia denies the crown prince knew of the plot.