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.
#BREAKING Saudi King Salman orders major Cabinet reshuffle
– Adel Al Jubeir relieved from position as Foreign Minister; named Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
– Ibrahim Alasssaf named as new Foreign Minister
– King also ordered formation of new political & security council pic.twitter.com/kA37Fw7C2z
— Nahayat Tizhoosh (@NahayatT) December 27, 2018
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.
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