Saudi Arabia's new foreign minister on Friday said the recently announced government reshuffle is part of Saudi Arabia's transformation plans, rejecting the Kingdom was in crisis and his predecessor was demoted. Prince Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz was appointed to head the powerful National Guard, while other princes were named as provincial rulers. The Cabinet shakeup is seen as a boon for the crown prince by placing loyalists in key positions. Hamad al-Sheikh, a royal court adviser and former college dean who studied in the USA, was appointed minister of education.
The younger princes who were named to the Cabinet and as provincial governors represent the "new generation of royalty", according to Mohammed al-Sheikh, a minister also seen as a key member of the crown prince's team. The king also ordered the creation of a national space agency to be led by one of his other sons, Prince Sultan bin Salman, a former astronaut.
After days of uncertainty, Khashoggi was killed in the consulate premises in what Saudi Arabia's then Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had described as a "rogue operation" led by two officials - the Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmad al-Assiri and the Royal Court Adviser Saud al-Qahtani - who have since been sacked. The reshuffle comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to fix its tarnished image after Khashoggi's murder, widely seen as its worst diplomatic crisis since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, in which most of the hijackers were identified as Saudi nationals. "You can not delink Khashoggi from any developments, though government reshuffles are customary every four years", said Mohammed Alyahya, a senior fellow at the Gulf Research Centre.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg released from hospital after cancer surgery
The Supreme Court justice underwent treatment for colorectal cancer in 1999 and was treated for pancreatic cancer in 2009. Ginsburg, 85, had two cancerous nodules removed from her left lung Friday at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in NY .
Kamran Bokhari, a foreign policy specialist at the University of Ottawa's Professional Development Institute, said Thursday's reshuffle is part of a "public relations" drive, meant to show "that the government is not just running amok killing its own citizens in consulates, and that there is serious reform underway". Al-Jubeir blamed Khashoggi's killing on rogue Saudi agents; he also previously characterized the worldwide outcry over Khashoggi's murder as "fairly hysterical". Some had predicted in recent weeks that the response would include a government shake-up that might also provide more seasoned counsel to the 33-year old crown prince. He is set to maintain his political and security posts after Thursday's reshuffle, including that of defence minister.
His appointment ended, for now, speculation that the post would be filled by Prince Khalid bin Salman, a younger brother of the crown prince who serves as the Saudi ambassador to the United States and has faced criticism for his early denials about a Saudi role in Khashoggi's disappearance.