Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabias was recently named the kingdom’s new defense minister in a royal decree that follows the death of his older brother just last month who had been in the position for five decades.
Prince Salman has been the governor of Riyadh Province for almost 50 years, and he now controls the top-spending ministry in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom boasts one of the best-equipped militaries in all of the Middle East and has used its arms purchases to reinforce ties with Western allies like the United States, Britain and France.
Prince Salman is seen as the third most senior member of the ruling al-Saud family after his older half brother King Abdullah and his older full brother the Crown Prince Nayef.
The recent decree also divided the defense ministry from the aviation ministry and appointed Prince Khaled bin Sultan as Deputy Defense Minister. Prince Khaled had served as Assistant Defense Minister to his father, Crown Prince Sultan, who died of cancer last month in New York.
Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz was named Riyadh Governor after serving as deputy governor under Prince Salman for many years. The post of Riyadh governor is considered to be among the most important in the country and was previously held by both Crown Prince Sultan and Crown Prince Nayef. Meanwhile, millions of Muslims from around the world arrived last week in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca to celebrate the first day of Hajj.