Saudi Kremlinology: what does King Salman’s reshuffle mean for the future?

Written by | January 31, 2015 | 0

One week into his reign, Saudi Arabia’s new king has reshuffled senior government officials, catching insiders by surprise and starting a “Kremlinology”-style dissection of what the new names mean for policy and direction.

With a series of royal decrees issued late on Thursday, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has consolidated his hold on the throne with a number of senior appointments that could take the country in a new direction.

Among the most significant of the 30 new names is Adel al-Teraifi, who has been named information minister after being plucked from the secular Dubai-based TV channel, al-Arabiya. Teraifi has a Phd from the London School of Economics and an outlook that is at odds with the clerical establishment, which is prominent in Saudi affairs.

An adviser to the royal court suggested that the appointment of Teraifi was a nod to a need for the kingdom to be more responsive to criticism and inclusive of demands from a younger generation ever more accustomed to fast-paced news and information.

Key security officials have also been changed. Removed from any role is the once powerful Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former intelligence chief and ambassador to the US, who was long hailed for his links to Washington, but had fallen from grace in the past year over the perceived failure of his Syria policy.

New committees have been set up to oversee security and political affairs. King Salman also fired two sons of the late monarch, King Abullah: Prince Mishaal, who acted as governor of Mecca, and Prince Turki, who ran Riyadh province.

Filed in: Islamic World

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