|Mohamed bin Nayef, the new crown pince|
The reshuffling means that the ''Sudairi'' family branch again has safeguarded its leading position within the Saudi royal familiy.
The Sudairi's were originally called the ''Sudairi seven'' after the seven sons that the first king and founder of Saudi Arabia, Abdel Aziz bin Saud, had with his favorite wife, Hassa al-Sudairi. Among the seven were king Fahd, and the once powerful princes Sultan, Turki, and Nayef, the father ofthe new crown prince, who all died in the recent past. The Sudairi branch was always considered to be the most powerful branch of the family, but under the previous king, Abdallah who belonged to a different branch, it lost this position. Temporarily as it appears now, because with the accession of king Salman, also a Sudairi, to the throne in January, it was back in business. And with the recent appointments it can be sure to retain its powerful position for decades to come.
The new crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef (55), who is also Interior minister, is known internationally as Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism tsar. He was previously deputy crown prince. He becomes the first of his generation to be elevated to such a high position. He has survived several assassination attempts, including one in 2009 by al-Qaida. He takes over from Prince Muqrin. Muqrin, 69, had been largely seen as a transitional figure in his post as crown prince. The royal court statement said he was relieved on his request. Nayef will continue to oversee the country’s massive police force and border guards in his role as interior minister. As crown prince, he will also serve as deputy prime minister.
The royal decree also announced that the king’s son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the present Defense minister, is the new deputy crown prince. He is believed to be around 30. As deputy crown prince, he is seen as second in line to the throne. Abdullah's only son who retained a position of significant power was Prince Miteb, who is head of the national guard and was retained in his post on Wednesday.
Another change that was annlunced on Wednesday was the removal of the longtime foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, who was replaced with Adel al-Jubeir, the kingdom’s ambassador to the US. Faisal, 75, who had served as foreign minister for 40 years, spent several months this year receiving medical treatment abroad. The decree cited “health conditions” as the reason for his retirement.
The king also moved Adel Faqih from the post of labour minister to that of economy minister. Khalid al-Falih was put in charge of the health ministry. The most senior woman in government, Nora al-Fayez, was sacked as deputy education minister for girls. Shunned by ultraconservatives, she was strongly pushing to get physical education on the curriculum for girls in Saudi public schools.