Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been appointed prime minister of Saudi Arabia, in an apparent bid to shield him from a US lawsuit over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
The Saudi kingdom said it made an exception to Saudi law so he could receive the appointment from his father, King Salman. In practical terms, it does not change the power structure as Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MbS, is already the nation’s de facto ruler.
However, being officially designated prime minister may grant him immunity from a looming lawsuit in the US over the murder of Mr Khashoggi – who was a Washington Post columnist and Saudi critic.
The Joe Biden White House had been handed a deadline by a US judge, which expires next week, for them to give a view on whether the prince should benefit from immunity.
“It seems MbS has been advised to take this step before the response was due on October 3,” said the pro-democracy campaign group Dawn, which is a party to the lawsuit.
Mr Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey in 2018. Prince Mohammed denies he personally ordered the killing and blamed it on “rogue” Saudi agents.
The prince appears to be making attempts to relaunch himself as a Western ally, playing a role in a recent prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine.
(© Telegraph Media Group Ltd, 2022)
Telegraph Media Group Limited