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KSA reshuffles military, promotes woman at labour ministry

  • Published at 08:37 PM February 27, 2018
  • Last updated at 12:41 AM February 28, 2018
KSA reshuffles military, promotes woman at labour ministry
A picture taken February 27, 2018 in Riyadh shows the front pages of the daily Saudi newspapers displaying the latest appointments and changes in the Saudi militaryAFP

The new military chief of staff was named as First Lieutenant Fayyad bin Hamed al-Ruwayli

Saudi Arabia has replaced some of its top military officers in a series of personnel changes that elevate a younger generation, bring a woman into a senior government job and tighten Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s grip on power.

In a reshuffle announced late on Monday, the military chief of staff, air defence and land forces heads and senior defence and interior ministry officials were removed. Tamadur bint Youssef al-Ramah became deputy labour minister, a rare high-level job for a woman in the deeply conservative kingdom.

The crown prince, who at 32 is also defence minister and heir apparent, has promised reforms to wean Saudi Arabia off oil exports, create jobs and open up Saudis’ cloistered lifestyles. Since rising to prominence three years ago, he has also removed a number of apparent rivals to the throne.

The overhaul, analysts said, was not directly linked to Saudi Arabia’s three-year-old military campaign in Yemen against the Iran-aligned armed Houthi movement. But the war has largely stalled and international criticism is growing over a humanitarian crisis and air strikes that have killed civilians.

The new military chief of staff was named as First Lieutenant Fayyad bin Hamed al-Ruwayli.

The decrees included adopting a new strategy to restructure the defence ministry for improved organisation and governance, but provided few details.

Khalid Biyari, appointed aide to the defence minister, left his post as chief executive of Saudi Telecom, a possible sign that the crown prince is tapping the private sector to implement reforms.

The decrees also included the appointment of three deputy governors from among the descendants of Princes Ahmed, Talal and Muqrin – brothers of King Salman, some of whom may have felt sidelined by changes since his accession to the throne in 2015.

One of them, new deputy governor of Asir province, Prince Turki bin Talal, is the brother of billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who was detained in the government’s anti-corruption campaign and released only last month.

Young blood

The overhaul was a nod to a younger generation, analysts said, in what has become a hallmark of the crown prince’s approach to ruling youthful Saudi Arabia, where patriarchal traditions have long made power the preserve of the old.

If he succeeds his father, Prince Mohammed would become the first grandson of the kingdom’s founder Ibn Saud to be king after decades of rule by six of his sons.

The appointment of a woman at the labour ministry is part of efforts to modernise and promote a more moderate form of Islam. Prince Mohammed has loosened social restrictions, scaling back the role of religious police and permitting public concerts.

The government has announced plans to allow women to drive this year, and said women no longer need the consent of a male relative to open their own businesses, a step away from the kingdom’s guardianship system.


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