Reshuffling the Deck Chairs in Riyadh
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
Saudi Arabia is a family dictatorship masquerading as a nation state, the most ruthless Arab world regime.
Its rule is absolute, no opposition tolerated, no civil or human rights afforded ordinary Saudis – no speech, media or academic freedoms, nor right of assembly, association, internal movement, foreign travel, or religion.
Saudis have right to choose their government or have easy access to education, healthcare, public housing, legal services or social ones. Political parties are banned. So are collective bargaining rights and Internet access.
Arbitrary arrests and detentions are commonplace. So are state-sponsored kidnappings, disappearances, torture, public beheadings, whippings, and other horrendous human rights abuses – due process and judicial fairness denied.
Crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), king Salman’s favorite son, operates as de facto ruler, running things with an iron-fist, consolidating power by eliminating challengers and critics.
On Thursday, a long-expected kingdom reshuffling was announced, the first one since Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, ordered by MBS.
By royal decree, aiming to bolster MBS, King Salman demoted foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir to minister of state for foreign affairs, appointing former finance minister/minister of state Ibrahim al-Assaf to replace him.
According to Middle East analyst Marwan Kabalan, al-Jubeir’s demotion didn’t surprise, calling him a holdover from king Abdullah’s rule, his removal from the top foreign post unrelated to Khashoggi’s murder, he believes, adding:
He’s likely one of a good many scapegoats for the assassination, shifting blame away from where it belongs. Thursday’s reshuffling was short of a needed changing of the guard – MBS’ position as crown prince secure so far.
Jubier is a convenient scapegoat because Riyadh’s Istanbul consul general fell under his purview – even though both figures likely had nothing to do with killing Khashoggi.
Other announced changes include prince Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz named chief of the national guard, replacing Prince Miteb bin Abdullah.
General Khalid bin Qirar al-Harbi was appointed general security chief, Musaed al-Aiban named national security adviser. Saudi envoy to Britain Mohammed bin Nawaf was recalled, his replacement unnamed so far.
Other changes affected the kingdom’s political and security council. Reshuffling the regime’s deck chairs leaves its despotic rule unchanged – along with no accountability for Khashoggi’s murder where it belongs.
Changes announced are unlikely to affect Riyadh’s partnership with Washington’s Yemen war. It rages endlessly. Ceasefire talks in Sweden accomplished nothing.
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