Saudi Arabia has made a new foreign minister with expertise in Western capitals and devotion to the highly effective crown prince, in what observers say is a generational change being pushed by the youthful ruler.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan — a one time advisor to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and now ambassador to Germany — will replace Ibrahim al-Assaf who had been in the function for under a year.
Assaf, who had been appointed in the wake of the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi within the kingdom Istanbul consulate, was demoted to the ministry of state.
While Assaf was billed with adjusting the kingdom’s standing in the immediate wake of this scandal, Prince Faisal has more repair work to perform and should also contend with all the kingdom’s dangerously tense relations with Iran.
The new minister has”very strong ties with conventional Saudi allies”, stated Cinzia Bianco, a Middle East analyst in the European Council on Foreign Relations. “He’s dynamic and proactive.”
But economists also pointed into the 45-year-old prince history with Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, in addition to his younger brother Prince Khaled, a former ambassador to Washingon he served as advisor.
“It is part of a generational change developing a new category of leaders in Saudi Arabia which are disconnected in the old power agents, assisting MBS to combine his power without needing to trust the old guard,” explained Andreas Kreig, a professor at King’s College London.
Foreign policy choices are being made in the crown prince’s workplace with ministers being executioners, not real decision-makers.”
Repair work to perform
Prince Faisal, who had been appointed as envoy to Berlin earlier this season,” has strong ties with conventional African allies, US and even a more European perspective than is traditionally the situation,” said Bianco.
He takes office since the realm continues to manage the aftermath of Khashoggi’s killing, its worst diplomatic catastrophe because the September 11, 2001 attacks, where the majority of the hijackers were identified as Saudi nationals.
“The outgoing was not a truly foreign policy individual. The recently appointed is quite clever, very articulate and he’s also been quite strident in his announcements,” explained James Dorsey, a Middle East specialist in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore.
“MBS needs somebody who’s a lot more strident. MBS has a lot of fixes to perform along with also the new foreign minister has what MBS needs.”
The kingdom has also been digging a spike in tensions with its own regional arch-rival Iran since attacks on Saudi oil facilities a month which briefly halved the kingdom’s crude output and shipped world costs soaring.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels claimed responsibility, however, US officials blamed Tehran itself, charging that the rebels didn’t have the sophistication or range to target the centers.
Tehran has denied participation and cautioned”total war” in case of any retaliatory attack on its territory.
Before this month, Tehran explained that an Iranian-flagged petroleum tanker was struck by two explosions from the coast of Saudi Arabia, sparking new fears of battle.
Included in the reshuffle declared overnight, transportation minister Nabil al-Amoudi was replaced, together with Saleh bin Nasser al-Jasser installed at the part.