Saudi Arabia Fires Top Army Chiefs in Military Shake-up

Army chief of staff, ministers and top commanders of ground and air defence forces replaced, in series of royal decrees.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has fired his top military commanders and reshuffled his cabinet in a shake-up of key security and government ministries, according to royal decrees.

Those dismissed include the Saudi army’s chief of staff, and the heads of the ground and air defence forces.

First Lieutenant General Fayyad bin Hamed al-Ruwayli was appointed the new chief of staff.

Tamadur bint Youssef al-Ramah was appointed as deputy labour minister in a rare senior post for a woman in the kingdom.

“He [Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman] is the person who is running the country. There should not be any doubt about it,” said James Dorsey, senior fellow at the S Raja Ratnam School of International Studies, Singapore.

“One has to keep in mind that in effect the crown prince has changed the government structure of Saudi Arabia,” he said, adding that it’s a one-man rule as opposed to the past when decisions were taken by consensus.

“I think we are going to see more changes in personnel both within [the] military as well as civilian administration simply because he is putting his own people and he wants to project a certain image of the kingdom.”

No official reason has been given for the overhaul, but it comes as Saudi Arabia faces growing criticism of the war in Yemen.

A Saudi-led coalition launched a military offensive in March 2015 after Houthi rebels took over the capital, Sanaa, and large swathes of the impoverished country a year earlier.

“The problem with assessing the impact on the war in Yemen is that we don’t really know what’s the sentiment both within the Saudi public as well as within the Saudi military,” Dorsey told Al Jazeera.