Saudi king demotes incumbent foreign minister over Khashoggi’s murder

Riyadh: Facing massive international pressure over the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday rejigged his government, appointing a new foreign minister and reshuffling other top posts.

Amid a global fallout, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was demoted to minister of state for foreign affairs and named a new minister, Ibrahim Al-Assaf, who previously served in the finance ministry, CNN reported citing a royal decree.

The Saudi monarch also appointed Prince Abdullah bin Bandar as the new head of the National Guard. The prince is the son of Bandar Al Saud, who was formerly the country’s envoy to the United States from 1983 to 2005.

Apart from the high-profile reshuffle, King Salman also appointed several security intelligence officials.

The move by Saudi Arabia comes days after a committee led by the Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Salman, gave their nod to the creation of three departments in the kingdom’s intelligence service. The restructuring was necessitated by King Salman, following the demise of Khashoggi.

On October 2, Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime, was reported missing after he stepped into Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul to collect paperwork that would allow him to get married to his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz, who later said that he never appeared from the building.

After days of uncertainty, Khashoggi was killed in the consulate premises in what Saudi Arabia’s then Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had described as a “rogue operation” led by two officials – the Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmad al-Assiri and the Royal Court Adviser Saud al-Qahtani – who have since been sacked.

Investigations into Khashoggi’s killing are still going on in both Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report inferred the Crown Prince to be behind the scribe’s death – the allegations of which have been repeatedly and strongly refuted by Riyadh.