Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, has been appointed Prime Minister of the oil-rich kingdom in a surprise announcement.
The crown prince, commonly known by his initials MBS, was already de-facto ruler of the kingdom, and his new official position further consolidates his power.
The title was transferred from his father, King Salman, 86, who has been suffering from poor health.
The circumstances surrounding Khashoggi’s death severely tarnished the regime’s relations with the international community, particularly the US.
However, relations with Washington have thawed during the energy crisis, with US President Joe Biden fist-bumping MBS in July before discussions about increasing oil production.
Despite MBS already being de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, regime critics said the move to make MBS Prime Minister could be linked to a lawsuit being filed against him in the US. A judge in the US has asked the Biden administration to decide whether MBS should be given sovereign immunity in a civil case brought by Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiance.
“It seems like [MBS] has been advised to take this step before the response of the Biden administration was due on 3 October,” Abdullah Alaoudh, Gulf director at Dawn, told the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
Writing on Twitter, Cengiz said, “Does the title or murderer change when he becomes prime minister? Of course not.”
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