Saudi Official Who Was Thought to Be Under House Arrest Receives a Promotion

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General Huwairini had long served as a crucial liaison between the kingdom’s security services and those of the United States, alongside former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, who also served as the interior minister.

But after Prince Mohammed was replaced as crown prince last month, General Huwairini’s status became unclear. Current and former United States officials told The New York Times that he had been removed from his post and confined to his home because of his close relationship with the former crown prince, whose movements were also restricted.

The concern was so great that the Central Intelligence Agency even told the White House that the removal of the two men could hamper intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia, United States officials said.

But when asked about General Huwairini this week, a senior Saudi official said in a statement that he remained in his job and had pledged allegiance to the new crown prince.

“If you wish to see him, you can do so by visiting his office at any time,” the statement said.

The royal decrees announced the creation of the State Security Directorate, which will assume some of the duties of the Interior Ministry, including efforts to combat domestic terrorism.

The new body was created “to face all security challenges with a high degree of flexibility and readiness,” the decree said. But much about the new directorate remained unclear, including how it would split from the Interior Ministry and when it would be up and running.

A former senior United States official who tracks Saudi Arabia said that appointing General Huwairini was smart because he had good relationships with the United States, specifically with the F.B.I., and because he is popular with his men and runs a large network of domestic spies across the kingdom.

But it remained unclear whether he would actually run the new body or merely act as a figurehead, the former official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize contacts inside the kingdom.

NYTimes

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