Middle East

Saudi Arabia demotes foreign minister in wake of Khashoggi case

Saudi Arabia's former Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir (file photo) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Demoted: Adel al-Jubeir was the foreign minister

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has been demoted in a government reshuffle by the country's leader, King Salman.

Mr Jubeir will become minister of state for foreign affairs, with Ibrahim al-Assaf taking over as foreign minister.

The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has shone a spotlight on the ultra-conservative Islamic nation.

Khashoggi was an outspoken critic of the ruling House of Saud.

His articles in the Washington Post had been particularly critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country's de facto leader.

Saudi Arabia initially denied all knowledge of the journalist's fate after he disappeared on 3 October, but the Saudi public prosecutor subsequently described it as premeditated murder.

Riyadh denies the ruling royal family was involved and blames "rogue agents".

Mr Jubeir has been prominent in presenting Riyadh's stance, at one point accusing the Western media of "hysteria" in its coverage of the Khashoggi case.

'A clear demotion'

by Frank Gardner, BBC security correspondent

Nearly three months have passed since the murder of the Saudi journalist and critic Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

While it is highly unlikely that Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign minister at the time, knew anything about it, the consulates are his responsibility and the crime took place on his watch.

Something needed to be seen to be done.

He remains as minister of state - a clear demotion - giving up his place to a lifelong finance man, Ibrahim al-Assaf, who has a far more limited experience of international diplomacy.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Murdered: Jamal Khashoggi was an outspoken critic of the Saudi government

Jubeir has been an eloquent ambassador for Saudi Arabia on the world stage. He was the first senior Saudi official to publicly admit that Khashoggi had been murdered by what he called "rogue elements" of Saudi security.

Other changes and appointments in the cabinet today are seen as part of an ongoing shake-up of the security and intelligence community after the scandal of the Khashoggi murder.

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