(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Prince Fahd bin Abdullah bin Muhammad was appointed to the post on Saturday by Saudi king’s decree, according to Saudi Press Agency.
“We order the following: Firstly, deputy defense minister prince Khalid bin Sultan is relieved from his office. Secondly, prince Fahd bin Abdullah bin Muhammad is appointed deputy to the defense minister with a minister’s rank,” the king said in the decree quoted by the SPA.
Prince Khalid, the eldest son of the late crown prince Sultan, had been serving as deputy minister of defense since November 2011. After years of service in the army, prince Khalid became first commander of the Saudi air defense force and was chosen as the commander of the joint Arab forces in the first Persian Gulf war after Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait.
The royal decree raised questions about reasons of the decision which seemed to be related to disagreements in the Saudi royal family about who would be the successor to late Saudi defense minister prince Sultan.
Usually in the Saudi royal family, such changes and removals of officials are announced to be at the request of the official himself, while Khalid’s removal decree did not give any such reason. According to analysts, this could be because of Khalid’s hopes of being successor to his father which were diminished after his uncle Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud was appointed as the defense minister. It was said that tensions rose higher after Salman who was expected to resign after being appointed as minister so that Khalid could rise to the post, refused to do so.
There is also the possibility of Salman bin Abdul-Aziz being the main drive behind the decision, according to Saudi political experts.
Fahd bin Abdullah is a former commander of the royal Saudi naval forces. He also held positions such as the chief of the operations authority of the naval forces, director at the office of the minister of defense, and then deputy commander of the naval forces.