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Saudi king orders major reshuffle of top government posts

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The Washington Post Building

The crown prince oversees both entities.

Many - including the US Senate and Central Intelligence Agency - point to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the person responsible for the assassination, though Riyadh has maintained that these accusations are unsubstantiated.

A royal decree named Ibrahim al-Assaf as new foreign minister, demoting the outgoing chief diplomat Adel al-Jubeir to the position of minister of state for foreign affairs.

Assaf's biography on Aramco's website says he holds a PhD in economics from Colorado State University, a master's degree in economics from the University of Denver and a bachelor's degree from King Saud University.

The kingdom has said Khashoggi was killed inside its Istanbul consulate in a "rogue operation" led by the then deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and royal court advisor Saud al-Qahtani, both of whom have been sacked.

Turki al-Shabana, an executive at broadcaster Rotana, was appointed minister of information.

Following the royal decrees issued to reshuffle the Saudi council of ministers, pictures spread on social media showing a number of council members at the top of mount Lawz. Hamad al-Sheikh was appointed minister of education.

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Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consul general in Istanbul, which is administered by the foreign ministry.

Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz was named as the minister for the national guard. Prince Abdullah had been deputy governor of Mecca.

Among other appointments, Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal has replaced Turki al-Sheikh, a close ally of MBS, as president of the country's sports authority.

Al-Sheikh's appointment as head of entertainment means he no longer oversees a cybersecurity and programming body that was led by Saud al-Qahtani, a close aid to the crown prince who was sacked from his post and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for helping to mastermind the plot in Istanbul that led to Khashoggi's killing.

After the only surviving full brother of King Salman, Prince Ahmed, returned to Saudi Arabia from London in late October, speculation emerged that disgruntled members of the Saudi royal family might seek to install Ahmed, the crown prince's uncle, instead of him as king.

"This reshuffle doesn't undercut the crown prince, meaning that those within the US Congress who want to see his role reduced will have an argument that further action should still be taken". While President Donald Trump has sought to emphasize the importance of the US alliance with Saudi Arabia, prominent senators have come out against the crown prince, with one, Republican Lindsey Graham, describing him as "crazy" and "dangerous". His critics point to USA intelligence reports and say an operation like this could not have happened without his knowledge.

The critic's killing has tainted the image of 33-year-old Prince Mohammed - the de facto ruler and heir apparent - even though the kingdom strongly denies he was involved.

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