Saudi national guard chief, economy minister out in reshuffle

 04 Nov 2017 - 23:35

Saudi national guard chief, economy minister out in reshuffle
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud File picture / Bandar al-Jaloud/AFP

By Donna Abu/Nasr / Bloomberg

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia appointed a former HSBC Holding Plc banker to head the country’s economy ministry and removed one of the royal family’s most prominent princes from as head of the National Guard.

Prince Miteb, son of the late King Abdullah, was replaced as minister of the National Guard by Prince Khaled Ayyaf, according to a royal decree carried by state-run media late Saturday. Before his ouster, Prince Miteb was one of the few remaining senior princes to have survived a series of cabinet reshuffles that promoted allies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king’s son and heir to the throne.

King Salman has sidelined other senior members of the royal family to prevent any opposition to the crown prince. Prince Mohammed, 32, replaced his elder cousin, Muhammed bin Nayef, as crown prince in June, a maneuver that removed any doubt of how succession plans will unfold following the reign of King Salman, now 81.

Changing the head of the National Guard, an institution that’s been controlled by the clan of the late King Abdullah, “is not like changing the minister of oil,” said Kamran Bokhari, a senior analyst with Geopolitical Futures and a senior fellow with the Center for Global Policy. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this leads to greater fissures within the royal family.”

The king also replaced Minister of Economy and Planning Adel Fakeih with Mohammad Al Tuwaijri, his deputy.

Al Tuwaijri, formerly vice minister for economy and planning, had already played a key role in shaping Saudi economic and fiscal policy over the past year. Before joining the government in May 2016 he was Middle East chief executive for HSBC. He’s served as a frequent spokesman for the government’s economic reform plan on TV and with Western journalists.

King Salman also issued an decree forming an anti-corruption committee headed by the crown prince. Its powers include the ability to trace funds and assets, and prevent their transfer or liquidation on behalf of individuals or entities, along with the right to take any precautionary actions until cases are referred to relevant investigatory or judiciary authorities, according to a government statement.

The committee’s formation was deemed necessary “due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds,” the Royal Order said.