C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 RIYADH 000393
DEPARTMENT PASS TO NEA/ARP FOR HARRIS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/02/2019
TAGS: PGOV, SA
SUBJECT: SAUDI KING SOLIDIFIES BASE WITH EXTENSIONS
REF: A. RIYADH 0356
B. RIYADH 0345
C. RIYADH 0145
D. RIYADH 0042
E. 08 RIYADH 1757
F. 08 RIYADH 1748
Classified By: DCM David Rundell for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
-- (U) Saudi King Abdallah bin Abdulaziz issued two royal
decrees February 25 extending the terms of 26 senior
officials, including three of the most senior Sudairi princes
and six provincial governors.
-- (C) The exception is the royal governor of Jizan Province,
whose term ends April 3, and whose appointment was not
renewed. The king did not name a replacement for him and
also has yet to fill the strategically important governorship
of Najran on the Yemeni border. That post has been vacant
since the king sacked Prince Mishal bin Saud bin Abdulaziz in
November 2008 (Reftel F).
-- (C) The extensions do not come as a surprise, and reflect
the stability generally enjoyed by royals in senior
leadership positions, particularly provincial governors.
This contrasts with the February 14 appointments which
removed or reassigned officials in favor of reform-minded
replacements (Reftel A). The powerful Sudairi clan retains
senior positions in the Defense and Interior ministries as
well as the governorships of Riyadh, Tabuk and the Eastern
Province (EP). The extensions shore up the king's power
base, allowing him to focus on reforms.
-- (C) The failure to extend the term of Jizan governor HRH
Prince Mohamed bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz could signal that his
days are numbered, though likely at his own request. The
long gap in filling the Najran opening could indicate few
qualified takers. Jizan and Najran, both located in the
southwestern extreme of the Kingdom near the Saudi-Yemeni
border, are critical in the kingdom's fight against
terrorism, smuggling and human trafficking. The next
governor faces the difficult tasks of securing the border
against al-Qaeda infiltrators while repairing relations with
the local Ismaili Shi'a population.
-- (C) Sources have told emboffs that the king would offer
the Najran job to Eastern Province Deputy Governor HH Prince
Jiluwi bin Abdulaziz bin Musaad bin Jiluwi, but EP Governor
Prince Mohamed bin Fahd (MbF) does not want to lose his
highly regarded deputy. The king apparently considers Prince
Jiluwi the best candidate for the Najran job because of his
positive rapport with EP Shi'a. The king's son, Prince Turki
bin Abdallah, is rumored to be Prince Jiluwi's successor,
should he move to Najran. Contacts believe that MbF may get
his way and that the king is also considering one of his
sons, Prince Mishal bin Abdallah, for the Najran
governorship. Prince Jiluwi served as Deputy Governor in
Tabuk Province before moving to the same role in Eastern
Province in 2004. The king extended his term in April 2008.
END KEY POINTS AND COMMENT.
THREE KEY SUDAIRIS
(C) Three high-profile members of the Sudairi clan, a
subsect of the extended Saudi royal family, received routine
extensions. The term "Sudairi Seven" refers to the seven
full brothers born to King Abdulaziz and Princess Hessa bint
Ahmed al-Sudairi. The Sudairi Seven became six with King
Fahd's 2005 death.
-- HRH Prince Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Deputy
Minister of Defense and Aviation (MoDA): One of the Sudairi
Seven, Prince Abdulrahman has held this position since 1982
working for his brother, Crown Prince Sultan. Prince
Abdulrahman traditionally has not engaged in MoDA's
operations. However, he reportedly has increased the
frequency of office visits, and some speculate he could
succeed his ailing brother as minister.
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-- HRH Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Governor of
Riyadh Province: Many local observers consider the active
Prince Salman a favorite to one day become Crown Prince.
Born in 1936, Prince Salman is another member of the Sudairi
Seven. He has ruled Riyadh province since 1963. (Reftel C)
-- HRH Prince Ahmad bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Deputy Minister of
Interior: The third Sudairi Seven member to be extended,
Prince Ahmad serves behind his more powerful brother, Prince
Nayef, and yields day-to-day operations of MoI to influential
nephew Mohamed bin Nayef. He has held the Deputy Minister
position since 1978.
GOVERNORSHIPS: FOUR MORE YEARS
(C) In addition to Prince Salman in Riyadh, five other
provinces saw their governors extended. In all, the February
25 appointments include six of seven governors whose
four-year terms were set to expire in April and May.
-- HRH Prince Mohamed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz al-Saud,
Governor of Eastern Province: The oldest living son of the
late king, Prince Mohamed bin Fahd (MbF) has governed Eastern
Province (EP) since 1985. Most Saudi Shi'a live in EP, and
some Sunnis view MbF's role as keeping a thumb on this
minority. In turn, many EP Shi'a hold dim views of MbF, some
accusing him of corruption. (Reftel D)
-- HRH Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Governor
of Tabuk Province: Prince Fahd is the second oldest son of
Crown Prince Sultan. He has governed this remote northern
region since 1987.
-- HRH Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Governor of
Qassim Province: A member of the Allegiance Council, Prince
Faisal is considered close to King Abdallah and has governed
the conservative Qassim region since 1992.
-- HRH Prince Mohamed bin Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Saud,
Governor of al-Baha Province: Prince Mohamed, the eldest
sone of King Saud, was born in 1934. He has governed this
western coastal province since 1987.
-- HH Prince Abdallah bin Abdulaziz bin Mousaed bin Jiluwi,
Governor of Northern Border province: Renown for his long
tenure, Prince Abdallah was born in 1931 and is the only
surviving governor appointed by King Abdulaziz (d. 1953).
His younger brother, Prince Jiluwi, is deputy governor of
Eastern Province (see comment). The Jiluwi are a cadet
branch of the al-Saud.
MORE MINISTERIAL POSITIONS
(C) The February 25 decrees extended five other
ministerial assignments. These carry the same rank, but less
authority, than the above eight positions.
-- HRH Prince Badr bin Abdulaziz al-Saud extends as Deputy
Commander of the National Guard: While King Abdallah bin
Abdulaziz commands the Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG),
his son Prince Miteb bin Abdallah effectively runs the
organization. Prince Badr holds the title of deputy
commander, but not the responsibility. However, his son, HRH
Prince Fahd bin Badr bin Abdulaziz, is governor of al-Jouf
-- HH Prince Fahd bin Abdallah bin Mohamed al-Saud, Assistant
Minister of Defense and Aviation for Civil Aviation Affairs.
-- Sheikh Rashid bin Saleh bin Khineen, Advisor to the Royal
-- Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulaziz al-Shethri, Advisor to the
-- Abdulrahman bin Mohaman al-Sadhan, Secretary General of
(C) Thirteen officials at the "Excellent" rank, including
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two royals, received extensions. Of note:
-- HRH Prince Mohamed bin Saad bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Advisor
to the Ministry of Interior: Prince Mohamed is a member of
the Allegiance Council. (Reftel E)
-- HRH Prince Turki bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud,
Assistant Minister of Culture and Information: Another son
of the Crown Prince, Turki now reports to the new Minister
Abdulaziz Khoja (Reftel B), a King Abdallah loyalist as are
the new ministers of Health and Education.
-- HH Prince Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohamed bin Ayaf al-Miqren,
Mayor of Riyadh city.
-- Dr. Abdulrahman bin Ibrahim al-Jammaz, Advisor to the
Ministry of Interior: Dr. Abdulrahman serves as close
advisor to Minister of Interior Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz.
-- Fahd bin Abdulaziz bin Muammar, Governor of al-Taif
Province. This position is a sub-governorship falling under
the greater Mecca governorate.
-- Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman al-Hussein, Mayor of al-Medina
-- Deif Allah bin Ayiesh bin Faris al-Otaibi, Mayor of the
Eastern Region. This position falls under the direction of
Eastern Province Governor Mohamed bin Fahd (para 2).
-- Dr. Abdulaziz bin Saqr al-Ghamdi, President of Naif Arab
University for Security Studies (NAUSS). A graduate of
Michigan State, Dr. Abdulaziz has taken initiative to
increase contact and cooperation between his institution and