Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz named his son and heir Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom's Prime Minister and his second son Prince Khalid as Defence Minister, a royal decree said on Tuesday.
The reshuffle kept another son, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, as Energy Minister, the royal decree, carried by state news agency SPA, said.
Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan and Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih remained unchanged, the decree showed.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s new role is in line with the king’s previous delegation of duties to him, including representing the kingdom in foreign visits and chairing summits hosted by the kingdom, a Saudi official said on Tuesday.
“HRH the crown prince, based on the king’s orders, already supervises the main executive bodies of the state on a daily basis, and his new role as prime minister is within that context,” the official said.
De facto ruler of Saudi
The crown prince, known as MbS, had been the Defence Minister and has been the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter and a major U. S. ally in the Middle East.
Prince Khalid bin Salman, MbS's younger brother, previously served as deputy defense minister.
King Salman will still preside the cabinet meetings that he attends, the decree said.
The 86-year-old King, the custodian of Islam's holiest sites, became ruler in 2015 after spending more than two-and-a-half years as the crown prince. He has been hospitalised several times over the last two years.
Influence of MbS
Prince Mohammed has changed Saudi Arabia radically since he rose to power in 2017 as he led efforts to diversify the economy from dependence on oil, allowed women to drive and curbed the clerics' power over society.
His reforms, however, have come with a massive crackdown on dissent, with activists, royals, women rights' activists and businessmen jailed.
The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in 2018 has tarnished his reputation and strained the kingdom's relations with the United States and other Western allies.