There's been a shakeup of power in Saudi Arabia: In several royal decrees announced today, King Salman replaced his heir, as well as the world's longest serving foreign minister, Reuters reports. Salman's nephew Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, 55, has been named crown prince—next in line for the throne—replacing Salman's half-brother Muqrin bin Abdulaziz. Bin Nayef has the closest ties to US officials of any in the Saudi royal family and is the first of his generation to be named as heir, Reuters and the New York Times report. Replacing Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, King Salman named former US ambassador and non-royal Adel al-Jubeir in his place. Faisal is 75, and the decree cited "health conditions"; Muqrin is 69, and the decree said he requested retirement.
The Saudi king also moved his son, Mohammed bin Salman, 30, to the role of deputy crown prince, or second in line to the throne, notes the AP. Though young, bin Salman is respected throughout the royal family for his tough response to al-Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia and for his background in foreign policy after just four months as defense minister. Previously, he had little interaction with the public. The changes show the 79-year-old king is carving his own path, rather than following that of his predecessor, King Abdullah, but are unlikely to result in any major alterations in policy. (Click for a slideshow of the richest royals in the world.)