Saudi crown prince names his brother as defence deputy
The younger brother of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was named vice defence minister on Saturday, after a royal decree announced that he was no longer serving as the country's ambassador to Washington.
Khalid bin Salman, a former Saudi air force pilot, had been serving as Riyadh's ambassador to Washington for just under two years.
Khalid takes his post a year after his brother, Prince Mohammed, who also serves as the defence minister, announced a military reform plan and a dramatic overhaul of top defence commanders.
"As the Yemen war drags on and the military reform programme continues to move painstakingly slow, Prince Khalid is gaining a difficult portfolio but one that is critical to his father, brother and the kingdom," Becca Wasser, a policy analyst at the US-based RAND Corporation, told AFP.
"Prince Mohammed has struggled to delegate authority within this file which has rendered some efforts - chiefly military reform - stagnant, and Prince Khalid's appointment may be an attempt to reinvigorate these initiatives."
Shihabi said Khalid bin Salman will virtually have the same authority as the defence minister, shouldering some of the burden on the crown prince.
The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has refocused attention on the Saudi-led coalition's bombing campaign in Yemen, which is gripped by what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The murder - which intelligence agencies, including the CIA, have linked to the crown prince - has led to a backlash in Washington.
Agencies contributed to this report.
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