Saudi king reshuffles cabinet, replaces foreign minister

Riyadh, Dec 28 (IANS): Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud reshuffled his cabinet on Thursday, appointing a new foreign minister less than three months after an international crisis was unleashed by the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the country's consulate in Turkey's Istanbul.

Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, who was finance minister until 2016, was chosen by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who is also the prime minister at the same time, as the new minister of foreign affairs, replacing Adel Al-Jubeir who was demoted to the post of minister of state for foreign affairs, according to a royal decree.

Al-Assaf was among dozens of detainees in the huge operation against corruption carried out by Saudi authorities in November 2017 in which princes, politicians and powerful business leaders were detained for weeks in a luxurious hotel in Riyadh before reaching financial agreements with the government, Efe reported.

Shortly after he was released, Al-Assaf was appointed as a minister of state and a member of the Council of Ministers, and led the Saudi delegation that attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2018.

The outgoing foreign minister, Al-Jubeir, was during recent years one of the main exponents of the Middle Eastern kingdom's policies as well as a staunch defender of the war in Yemen and his country's role in the Khashoggi case.

The prominent Saudi Arabian journalist, a Washington Post columnist, was killed on October 2 inside his country's consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul where he had gone to fill out the paperwork needed for his upcoming marriage.

Khashoggi was a member of the Saudi elite, however, he fled his country in September 2017 and became renowned for his criticism of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's administration.