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Saudi spy chief ousted under US pressure

The exit of Saudi's spy chief was the result of US pressure over his stance on Syria but does not signal a shift in Riyadh's goal of toppling the Damascus regime, experts say. Riyadh, as is usual, did not elaborate on its statement this week that Prince Bandar bin Sultan was being replaced, saying only that the veteran diplomat had asked to step down. But a Saudi expert said that Washington -- irritated for some time by Prince Bandar's handling of the Syria dossier -- had in December demanded his removal.

Saudi replaces veteran intel chief Prince Bandar

Saudi Arabia has replaced intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the kingdom's pointman on the Syrian conflict, "at his own request", official news agency SPA announced Tuesday. In a royal decree, the powerful official was "exempted... from his position at his own request" and replaced by his deputy, Yousef al-Idrissi. Bandar, a former ambassador to the United States, is widely regarded as among the most influential powerbrokers in the Middle East.

Saudi replaces veteran intel chief Prince Bandar

Saudi Arabia has replaced its veteran intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan "at his own request", an official television station in the kingdom announced Tuesday. In a royal decree, the powerful official was replaced "at his own request" by his deputy, Yousef al-Idrissi, said Al-Ekhbariya, a government-run satellite channel. Bandar was abroad for several months for health reasons, with diplomats saying he had been sidelined in Saudi efforts to support rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. bur/lyn/hc

Saudi king aims for smooth succession in troubled region

Saudi King Abdullah's unprecedented decision to appoint a second heir to his throne appears aimed at ensuring a smooth succession in a region thrown into turmoil by the Arab Spring. It also opens the door for the next generation to step up, in an ultra-conservative state ruled for decades by ageing monarchs. The 90-year-old monarch took the surprise measure Thursday naming his youngest half-brother Prince Moqren bin Abdul Aziz as a second heir, next in line after the ailing Crown Prince Salman.

Saudi's next heir is a close confidant of the king

Prince Moqren bin Abdul Aziz, named second in line for the Saudi throne, is a confidant of King Abdullah who has trusted him to carry out several sensitive diplomatic missions. Born on September 15, 1945 in Riyadh, the second crown prince is the youngest of the 35 sons of Abdul Aziz bin Saud, the founder of the kingdom. Diplomats say he is one of the principal confidants of the 90-year-old king. He graduated in 1968 from Britain's Royal Air Force College, in Cranwell, and served in the Saudi air force until entering in politics in 1980.

Saudi king aims for smooth succession in troubled region

Saudi King Abdullah's unprecedented decision to appoint a second heir to his throne appears aimed at ensuring a smooth succession in a region thrown into turmoil by the Arab Spring. It also opens the door for the next generation to step up in an ultra-conservative state ruled for decades by ageing monarchs. The 90-year-old monarch took the surprise measure Thursday naming his youngest half-brother Prince Moqren bin Abdul Aziz as a second heir, next in line after the ailing Crown Prince Salman.

Saudi king decrees half brother to be future monarch

Saudi Arabia's 90-year-old King Abdullah on Thursday appointed his half-brother Moqren, 69, as the next heir to the throne of the world's largest exporter of crude oil.` The decision, announced in a royal decree, comes as a source close to the circle of power told AFP that current Crown Prince Salman, 79, was sick and "may decide not to claim the throne" because of his ill health. The decree did not mention Prince Salman, who is also defence minister of the strategic Gulf state.

Saudi king decrees half brother Moqren to be a future monarch

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia Thursday appointed his half-brother Moqren bin Abdul Aziz as the next heir to the throne, paving the way for him to become a future king. The move was announced by a royal decree broadcast by state television channel Al-Ikhbariya. Under an irrevocable decree, Prince Moqren, currently second deputy president of the council of ministers, is named the next crown prince. There was no mention in the decree of current Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz.

Waseda Univ. confers honorary doctorate on Saudi crown prince

Japan's Waseda University honored Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud with an honorary doctorate in law on Friday. The university presented the crown prince with the degree in appreciation of his work to "strengthen relations with Japan," Waseda President Kaoru Kamata said during the conferral ceremony. In a speech, the crown prince thanked Japan on behalf of Saudi Arabian exchange students studying in the country and said he has "high respect for Japan's efforts to build an advanced nation."

Saudi crown prince to visit Japan

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will visit Japan from Feb. 18 to 21, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. During the visit, the crown prince plans to hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and have an audience with Emperor Akihito, the ministry said in a news release. The crown prince serves as deputy premier and defense minister of the Middle Eastern country. ==Kyodo
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