The American Kafir

2011/02/25

Saudi Cabinet Reshuffle Ahead?

Filed under: Muslim Brotherhood, National Security, Obama, Saudi Arabia — - @ 11:43 am

Source Link: Strafor

February 24, 2011 | 2301 GMT
Saudi Cabinet Reshuffle Ahead?
JOHANNES SIMON/AFP/Getty Images
Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal in Munich in February 2010

Saudi King Abdullah’s reform plan, which includes a stimulus package worth about $35 billion, comes at a time when the kingdom’s Cabinet is due for a reshuffle after its four-year term expired. The pending reshuffle has generated a great degree of speculation within the kingdom and overseas about the Cabinet’s future composition. STRATFOR’s Saudi sources tell us the three key posts — foreign affairs, defense and interior — are up for grabs.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, the kingdom’s intelligence chief from 1977 to 2001 who in recent years has served as ambassador to London and Washington, reportedly will become minister of foreign affairs. He will replace his brother, the ailing Prince Saud al-Faisal, who has held office since 1975. Both men are sons of the late King Faisal and grandsons of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul-Aziz.

Prince Mohammed bin Naif reportedly will become minister of interior, replacing his father, Prince Naif bin Abdul-Aziz. Prince Naif will retain his more recent appointment as second deputy prime minister, which essentially means he is next in line to become crown prince in the event that the position becomes vacant due to the death of the king or the crown prince. Prince Mohammed is currently an assistant interior minister and the country’s counterterrorism chief.

Crown Prince Sultan, who holds several key posts (deputy prime minister, minister of defense and aviation, and inspector general), is expected to hand over the Defense Ministry to his eldest son, Prince Khalid, a former general and currently assistant defense minister. Another of the crown prince’s sons and the kingdom’s longest-serving ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar, received a four-year extension as secretary-general of the National Security Council in September 2009. Considering that Crown Prince Sultan and Second Deputy Prime Minister Prince Naif are full brothers, and that their other brother, Prince Salman, is governor of Riyadh, their Sudeiri clan is likely to retain considerable clout.

As for the monarch’s clan, King Abdullah appointed his son Mitab as commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard — a post that King Abdullah himself held beginning in 1962 — in November 2010. Another of King Abdullah’s sons, Prince Khalid, is a member of the Allegiance Council, which was established in 2007 as a means of formalizing the succession process. Another son, Prince Mishal, is governor of the southwestern province of Najran.

It is not certain that the three key posts will stay within the respective clans — the al-Faisals at the Foreign Ministry, the Sudeiris at the Defense and Interior ministries. For example, we are told that the king opposes the sons of the crown prince and is not likely to allow Prince Khalid bin Sultan to become defense minister. That said, the need for harmony within the ruling House of Saud at a time when unrest in the region threatens to spill over into the kingdom may necessitate that the king drop his opposition.

There is also word that the monarch’s son Mitab might resign as head of the national guard, which would mean he is seeking a Cabinet position. Various other key princes also could see advancement in any shake-up. These include Khalid al-Faisal, the current governor of Mecca (brother of Turki and Saud) and a close ally of the king, and Prince Muqrin, the intelligence chief and the youngest living son of the kingdom’s founder. Prince Muqrin is considered the most able among the second generation.

Regardless of who makes it into the next Cabinet, the top players in the Saudi royal family are caught between the need to close ranks given the turmoil in the region and the need to advance their respective clans at a time of major transition on the home front.

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