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Saudi Arabia revamps major state security apparatus

Saudi's counter-terrorism and intelligence institutions will be headed by new security agency
Saudi Arabia's King Salman (AFP)

The Saudi king on Thursday decreed the consolidation of counter-terrorism and domestic intelligence under a new body in a major overhaul of the security apparatus weeks after the interior minister was ousted from the royal succession.

The new agency, which will be headed by intelligence chief General Abdel Aziz bin Mohammed al-Houeiriny, will manage several departments of the interior ministry, the state-run SPA said.

The department of intelligence and the units tasked with fighting terrorism will work under the authority of the new agency.

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The move strips important powers from the interior ministry, which was run by Prince Mohammed bin Nayef until last month, when he was relieved of his duties and removed as crown prince.

Mohammed bin Nayef was replaced as heir to the throne by the king's son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also serves as defence minister and leads an ambitious reform agenda to end Saudi Arabia's over-reliance on oil.

The changes were announced in a series of royal decrees published by the state news agency, which said they were made in order to maintain "the highest readiness levels to keep up with the latest developments".

As part of the decrees, King Salman also appointed Mohammed al-Kuwaiz head of the Saudi Arabian Capital Markets Authority (CMA), which regulates investments in the kingdom.

King Salman also issued a series of royal decrees on Thursday, including one sacking the head of the royal guard, General Hamad al-Awhaly, and replacing him with General Suheil al-Mutiri.