Saudi King Salman reshapes country's political and security affairs council

Saudi King Salman reshapes country's political and security affairs council

Saudi King Salman reshapes country's political and security affairs council

New officials were named to lead the National Guard, the General Directorate of Public Security and the Information Ministry.

The royal decree called for the restructuring of the Political and Security Affairs Council - under the chairmanship of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - and the restructuring of the Council for Economic Affairs and Development. "Even before the Khashoggi affair", Kabalan said in reference to the murder of Khashoggi on October 2.

King Salman also ordered the creation of a Saudi Space Agency, chaired by his 62-year-old son Prince Sultan bin Salman, who heads the Saudi tourism agency and flew aboard the US Space Shuttle Discovery in the 1980s as the first Arab in space.

Al Jubeir was appointed to the post of minister of state for foreign affairs.

Assaf, a former long-serving finance minister and a board member of national oil giant Saudi Aramco, was among several people detained as part of a "corruption crackdown" in November, 2017.

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Ibrahim al-Assaf, a former finance minister who was detained previous year in an anti-corruption sweep, will replace Adel al-Jubeir as foreign minister, a royal decree said. After serving as finance minister, he was locked in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton previous year with hundreds of princes, businessmen and officials in what the government called an anti-corruption campaign.

The changes appear to further consolidate the crown prince's grip on power by appointing advisers and members of the royal family seen as close to him.

Turki al-Sheikh, a confidant of the crown prince, was removed as head of the sports authority and replaced by Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal.

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. "There is an effort to balance the fast pace of reform with bolstering government procedures and institutions". 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. The kingdom denies the crown prince had any involvement.

In 1986, after leaving academia, Al-Assaf moved to Washington, where he represented Saudi Arabia as the Saudi executive director of the International Monetary Fund.

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