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Saudi 'political earthquake': King Salman announces new heir in major royal shake-up

In a major cabinet reshuffle that marks a generational shift, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz appointed new heir to the throne, replacing his younger half-brother with his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef as the new crown prince.

Saudi 'political earthquake': King Salman announces new heir in major royal shake-up

Riyadh: In a major cabinet reshuffle that marks a generational shift, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz appointed new heir to the throne, replacing his younger half-brother with his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef as the new crown prince.

The Royal Decree issued by King Salman brings a major rise in the position of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was the Deputy Crown Prince and also the country's Interior Minister.

While, King Salman's younger half-brother Moqren bin Abdul Aziz bin Saud has been relieved of his duties, which was reportedly done upon his request.

According to a statement by the royal court as reported by Saudi media, "We have decided to respond to his highness and what he had expressed about his desire to be relieved from the position of crown prince”.

Prince Moqren, who was crown prince until Wednesday's reshuffle, is the youngest son of the founder of Saudi Arabia, the late King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud.

In other major appointments, King Salman appointed his 30-year-old son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as deputy crown prince, and replaced veteran foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal with the kingdom's Washington ambassador Adel al-Jubeir.

As deputy crown prince, the prince is essentially seen as being second in line to the throne.

The announcement came a week after Salman acceded to the throne following the death of Abdullah, aged about 90.

The new appointments and dismissals signify a major shift in further thrust a new generation of Saudi princes into the line of succession.

The shake-up is being seen as a serious change and an expert has called it as “political earthquake” for Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to al-Jazeera, Khalil Jahshan, the executive director for the Arab Centre of Washington from Fairfax, Virginia, said that the reshuffle constitutes a "political earthquake of the greatest magnitude".

"The Saudi Arabia we knew a few hours ago is no longer. These are serious changes that will have repercussions not only domestically but also internationally,” Jahshan told Al Jazeera.

With Agency Inputs