Saudi crown prince plans to replace ‘hardline’ foreign minister: Report
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is reportedly considering replacing the country’s incumbent foreign minister with his 28-year-old younger brother Khalid bin Salman.
The crown prince’s likely plan to appoint Khalid bin Salman, who currently serves as the Saudi ambassador to the US, is considered partly due to Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir’s “hardline” stance against Iran, reported Stratfor, an American geopolitical intelligence platform and publisher.
The decision would also enable the newly-appointed crown prince to further consolidate power as he seeks to balance Riyadh’s priorities abroad with controlling dissent at home, the report added.
Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia first soured after a deadly human crush during Hajj rituals in Mina, near Mecca, in September 2015, when hundreds of Iranian pilgrims among others lost their lives.
Tensions between the two countries further escalated when the kingdom executed a prominent Shia cleric in January 2016.
Riyadh cut off ties with Tehran last January following protests in front of its diplomatic premises in the cities of Tehran and Mashhad against the execution.
On Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran and Saudi Arabia would likely exchange diplomatic visits after the Hajj rituals.
“Visas have been issued for both sides to make this visit. We are waiting for the final measures to be completed so that diplomats from the two countries can visit their embassies and consulates, and this will likely take place after Hajj,” which will end in the first week of September.
Zarif criticized Saudi Arabia’s “harmful” regional policies, but stressed that Tehran seeks friendly ties with its neighbors.
The Iranian top diplomat referred to Yemen as one of the areas where Saudi Arabia needed to change its policies nearly two and a half years after it launched its deadly military aggression against the impoverished country.
Zarif also expressed hope that the officials in Saudi Arabia would adopt “rational” policies towards Syria and Bahrain.