Former MBS adviser named new Saudi Foreign Minister

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.

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

The new Mnister 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.”

But analysts also pointed to the 45-year-old prince’s background with Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, as well as his younger brother Prince Khaled, a former Ambassador to Washingon he also served as adviser.

“It is part of a generational shift creating a new class of leaders in Saudi Arabia that are disconnected from the old power brokers, helping MBS to consolidate his power without having to rely on the old guard,” said Andreas Kreig, a Professor at King’s College London.


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