US Democrat Schiff says Trump's Ukraine call could justify impeachment    Egypt adopts integrated plan to improve cotton and textile industries: Public business sector minister    Busy schedule for President Sisi on sidelines of the UNGA session    Egypt's indexes fall to multi-year lows as protests weigh in    Travel group Thomas Cook battles for survival with final creditor meeting    UN agency: Tanzania not sharing details on Ebola-like cases    Valverde worried by Barca's limp away form after Granada defeat    Amazon's Jeff Bezos pledges to swiftly combat climate change    Baby gut study finds bacteria different after C-section births    Live score: Arsenal v Aston Villa (English Premier League)    Zidane unfazed by Mourinho talk as Real prepare for Sevilla test    Saudi Arabia says if attack launched from Iran, it would be an act of war: CNN    Ukraine's president promises to safeguard c.bank's independence at IMF meeting    Zamalek president Mortada Mansour talks Egypt's Super Cup, unveils reasons behind defeat    Hong Kong riot police curb airport anti-government protest after clashes    Huawei, China Mobile team up to bid for Brazil's Oi – report    Egypt's EGAS to clinch seven exploration agreements in Q4    Grand Egyptian Museum's construction works 93% complete    Egypt's Health Ministry bans all ranitidine medicines    Thomas Cook in talks with UK government and investors over rescue deal    El Gouna Film Festival celebrates 100th birth anniversary of novelist Ihsan Abdel-Quddous    FIPRESCI and Netpack hosted by El Gouna Film festival for the first time    Small protests in Egypt dispersed by police    Ahly wins Egyptian Super Cup after beating Zamalek    Rare protests in Egyptian streets after online call for dissent    Egypt's tuk-tuk start-up Halan to tap Ethiopia before year-end    Egypt's health ministry bans all ranitidine medication    Cairo Opera hosts closing ceremony of the Cairo International Festival for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre    Allianz Egypt allots $399K to promote UNICEF's vulnerable children initiative    Felix Brych to referee Ahly-Zamalek Super Cup game in Egypt's Alexandria    'Egypt will not allow any country to impose its will on another in Ethiopian dam issue,' FM says    Egypt, Ethiopia at odds as talks over Blue Nile dam resume    Egypt says GERD talks with Ethiopia 'stumbled', next round in Khartoum in October    Egypt's Sisi discusses education, terrorism at national youth conference    Egypt's PM discusses details of Al-Hussein Mosque renovation    Egypt's Baron Empain Palace to be reopen after renovation    Court sentences six to death, 41 to lifetime imprisonment violence related case    Trump says he would release Mideast peace plan after Israeli elections    ACWA Power compares 3 bids to supply production units for Luxor power station    What do you know about gold alloying?    NBE announces EGP 2.5m prizes for handball youth teams for their world achievements    Jennifer Lopez evokes Egyptian outrage post her North Coast performance    Al-Sisi honours Egypt's scholars on Science Day    IS claims responsibility for suicide bombing killing 63 in Afghan wedding    Political parties gear up for parliamentary, senate, local elections    Unprecedented Glory: Egypt win Men's U-19 World Handball Championship    12th National Egyptian Theatre Festival fuel up public theatre art scene    Ministry of Environment has a plan for "black clouds season"    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.





A very Saudi reshuffle
Published in Ahram Online on 07 - 01 - 2019

Rarely is change a way to bolster the status quo rather than to alter it. But this is precisely what happened last week when Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz decreed a sweeping government reshuffle affecting key ministries, the Political and Security Affairs Council headed by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, and the National Guard, which is one of the country's most important security institutions.
Some hours before the 33rd Janadriya Culture and Heritage Festival was due to round up its activities, I along with other participants at that event in Riyadh, learned that our host, the head of the National Guard who had sent us our invitations to the festival, had been replaced by the crown prince's cousin, Prince Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdul-Aziz. Adel Al-Jubeir, who had been prominent in recent news on Saudi Arabia, was demoted from foreign minister to minister of state for foreign affairs while Ibrahim Al-Assaf, formerly the finance minister, was appointed minister of foreign affairs.
Al-Assaf had been among the Saudi princes and entrepreneurs who had been put under house arrest in the Ritz Carlton in November 2017 and who was rumoured to have been released without having to pay the penalties that were exacted from the other detainees.
The overhaul also affected the ministries of interior, justice, education, health, culture and the Ministry of Shura Council Affairs. But perhaps the most significant change was the reintroduction of the post of national security adviser, which is now occupied by Minister of State Musaad bin Mohamed Al-Aiban, a Harvard graduate.
Although some of the names of those dismissed or appointed by the royal decrees came as a surprise, the government overhaul did not. It had been expected for some time since the Khashoggi murder because of the pressure Riyadh was coming under to bring those responsible to account and to take other required measures.
Observers, who have been closely following events in the kingdom, read most everything from this perspective. For example, when Prince Ahmed bin Abdul-Aziz, the king's younger brother (from a different mother), returned to Saudi Arabia from London, where he had been living for many years, word quickly spread that he would be appointed crown prince, replacing Mohamed bin Salman. Nothing of the sort occurred. Far from penalising the current crown prince, last week's royal decrees strengthened his power in the state.
Without delving into the details of King Salman's recent decrees, what is certain is that, intentionally or not, they convey a clear message: Saudi Arabia is the master of its own will. The decrees do not reflect, even remotely, the thrust of international pressures and, above all, the pressures from across the Atlantic in the US Congress.
As I read last week's changes, after dismissing the officials directly responsible for the Khashoggi assassination and initiating the relevant criminal procedures, Riyadh decided to close the subject and proceed with the implementation of the new policies spearheaded by Crown Prince Bin Salman. As for public opinion in Saudi Arabia's allies, that is another question.
Saudi Arabia's actions are clearly informed by the firm conviction that the Khashoggi case was politicised for ulterior motives that have nothing to do with the defence of the freedom of expression or human rights.
An influential Saudi figure whom I had the opportunity to interview while here in Riyadh related a joke that went around at the time of the US-British invasion of Iraq: “After a summit between US president George Bush Jr and British prime minister Tony Blair, the two heads-of-state held a joint press conference in which they announced that they had taken the decision to kill 20 million Arabs and one dentist.
The journalists homed in on the dentist. Who was he? Why is he being targeted? Not one journalist asked about the 20 million Arabs and the sin they committed in order to deserve that fate.”
My interlocutor continued, “you know and I know and the whole world knows that thousands of people around the world have been and continue to be subjected to what Khashoggi suffered, whether in the torture chambers in Guantanamo or Abu Gharib, or in police departments in some Third World countries. So why all this fuss about a single dentist? Why not defend the 20 million Arabs?”
He stressed that certain governments that are now casting themselves as defenders of the freedom of expression and the press are the worst abusers of the right to free expression and among the world's top jailers of journalists and political opponents.
He added: “What happened in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul was a heinous crime that needs to be investigated. Saudi Arabia has taken the necessary measures towards this end. However, Saudi policy is governed by a strategic vision for reform and progress. Nothing in that strategy will be vulnerable to pressures motivated by hidden political ends.”
Whether we like it or not, this is the perspective of Riyadh and it explains why the recent changes were contrary to what many had expected.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 20 December, 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: A very Saudi reshuffle


Clic here to read the story from its source.