Saudi Arabia’s new king has announced a surprise reshuffle, changing the succession line and government ministers in an attempt to consolidate his authority and draw the future of the throne for decades to come.
According to the decrees published on the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), King Salman appointed his nephew, Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (Naif), as crown prince and his son Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman as deputy crown prince, the two will succeed in him in that order.
Seen as the most pro-US royal, 55 year-old Prince Nayef, who will continue to keep his role as interior minister, is the most likely to be the next king.
The decree crosses off his youngest half-brother Prince Muqrin the succession line.
The king also replaced Prince Saud al-Faisal, who was the country’s foreign minister since 1975, with non-loyal Adel al-Jubeir, who was an ambassador to the United States.
Another noticeable change is the most senior woman – deputy education minister for girls Norah Al-Faiz is sacked from her post that she had held since 2009.
Al Faiz, the first woman to hold a cabinet-level office in the kingdom, has attempted to introduce sport classes for school girls despite objection by hardliners.
The changes come as Saudi Arabia is leading a military operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen.