Saudi king appoints son as new emir of Riyadh

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Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has appointed one of his sons as the governor of strategic Riyadh Province in a new decree aimed at strengthening his branch of the ruling dynasty in the kingdom.

In a royal decree, which was carried by the Saudi Press Agency on Wednesday, King Abdullah named Prince Turki bin Abdullah as the new emir of Riyadh Province, a key position in which he is to oversee the kingdom’s capital and be in contact with visiting foreign officials.

Prior to the latest assignment, Prince Turki served as the deputy governor of Riyadh Province.

According to the royal decree, Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Sultan was also replaced with the outgoing governor of Riyadh, Prince Khaled bin Bandar.

Prince Salman bin Sultan, a brother of former Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was a key figure in organizing Saudi Arabia’s support for the foreign-backed militants operating inside Syria, according to the Reuters. He, too, had been the governor of Riyadh for 50 years until 2011. He was made crown prince in 2012.

In a similar decree issued last December, King Abdullah picked his son Prince Mishaal, 43, for the post of governor of the holy city of Mecca.

Among his other sons, Mutaib is the head of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, and Abdulaziz is the country’s deputy foreign minister.

Over the past years, the aging Saudi king has made a series of changes and appointments in an effort to consolidate the position of his allies in the absolute monarchy. He has placed several young princes in key posts.

In June 2013, Foreign Policy said in an article entitled “The Struggle for Power in Saudi Arabia” that a power struggle is underway in the Arab country since King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz is in very frail health.

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