Saudi Arabia names new foreign minister

Riyadh, Oct 24 (AFP/APP): Saudi Arabia has appointed a new foreign minister with experience in Western capitals and loyalty to the powerful crown prince, in what observers say is a generational shift being driven by the young ruler.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan — a one-time adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and currently ambassador to Germany — will replace Ibrahim al-Assaf who was in the role for less than a year.

Assaf, who was appointed in the aftermath of the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate, was demoted to minister of state.

While Assaf was charged with mending the kingdom’s reputation in the immediate aftermath of the scandal, Prince Faisal has more repair work to do and must also contend with the kingdom’s dangerously tense relations with Iran.

The new minister has “really strong ties with traditional Saudi allies”, said Cinzia Bianco, a Middle East analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “He is dynamic and proactive.”

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