Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Saudi King sacks chief of staff in major military shake-up

King Salman

RIYADH: Saudi King Salman has sacked the military chief of staff and a host of other top commanders, state media said Monday, in a major shake-up of the defence establishment.

The monarch also replaced the heads of the ground forces and air defences, as well as senior officials at the interior ministry, in a series of late-night royal decrees.

No official reason was given for the sweeping overhaul, but it comes as the Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention in Yemen against Iran-aligned Huthi rebels nears the end of its third year.

“Termination of the services of General Abdul Rahman bin Saleh al-Bunyan, Chief of Staff,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said, adding that Fayyad al-Ruwaili had been appointed as his replacement.

Al-Bunyan’s sacking came after he inaugurated a major exhibition this week by the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), the state-owned defence company, which illustrates ongoing efforts to reform the sector.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – the heir to the throne and the son of the monarch – is the country’s defence minister and has been consolidating his grip on power in recent months.

In an unprecedented announcement, Tamadar Bint Yousef al-Ramah – a Saudi woman – was appointed the deputy minister of labour and social development.

And Prince Turki bin Talal – the brother of billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal – was appointed deputy governor of the southern Assir Province.

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