RIYADH : Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Wednesday reshuffled top defence posts, removing the deputy minister and the chief of staff, state news agency SPA reported.
He also appointed his son Prince Turki as governor of Riyadh region, SPA said. Prince Salman bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz was removed from his post as deputy defence minister "upon his request," SPA said, citing a royal decree. He was replaced by Prince Khaled, the governor of Riyadh. The outgoing deputy minister is a son of the late Crown Prince Sultan, who served as a defence minister for nearly five decades. SPA said the king also removed the chief of staff, General Hussein al-Qabeel, who was retiring, and replaced him with his deputy. General Fayad al-Rawyli. The defence overhaul came a month after the king removed the oil-rich Gulf state's powerful intelligence chief.
, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The decrees said Prince Salman had left the defence ministry position at his own request, a wording used every time a senior prince departs a post. He was replaced by the outgoing Riyadh governor Prince Khaled bin Bandar.
Until 2011, the position of Riyadh governor had been held for five decades by Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, who was made crown prince in 2012. The province is home to the country's capital and is the heartland of the al-Saud's traditional support base. Prince Turki bin Abdullah was born in 1970. Besides appointing sons as governors of Riyadh and Mecca provinces, two of the three most important in the country, Abdullah has also made one of his sons, Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, deputy foreign minister. However, his most senior son, and the one seen as most likely to one day become king, is Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who is head of the saudi Arabian National Guard. His main rival as a likely candidate to rule from among the next generation of the family is Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, say many Saudis and foreign analysts who follow the succession process.