S The descent of Foreign Minister and former ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a clear antipole to America. Adel is a reliable US partner for dealing with the Sunni kingdom.
The new foreign minister is Ibrahim al-Assaf, a relatively unknown person who has previously worked at the World Bank. But considering that al-Assaf is far less well-known than the man he replaces, one should wonder why nobility was so abominably dumped. Mohammed bin Salman and three other words summarize it: anger, control and Russia.
As far as anger is concerned, the Crown Prince is obviously angry at America's continued recrimination against the kingdom over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi government has sharply rejected the US Senate for a resolution condemning its role in the Khashoggi murder. As the most prominent American voice in the Cabinet, the downgrading of nobility allows the Crown Prince to send a message of contempt to Washington.
This brings us to the question of control. It is worth noting that Adel is very close to outgoing US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. The two men were brought together by Mattis' time as Commander-in-Chief of the US Central Command in the Middle East and a failed Iranian plan to assassinate nobility in Washington. But perhaps the Crown Prince feels that Adel Washington has little influence behind the scenes. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is popular with the Saudis and especially with the Crown Prince. But even Mohammed bin Salman would have nobility deemed inappropriate for his own control freak tendencies. By bringing technocratic al-Assaf into the inner circle of the royal court, the young king gains more confidence in the independence of his ministers.
Then there is the Russia Angle. The government of Vladimir Putin is actively trying to oust the US as the closest international ally of Saudi Arabia. The Russians want Saudi Arabia to be invested in their economy because Russia keeps an eye on Riada's excess. And Putin plays well in this regard. Just this week, a senior Russian foreign minister warned of US (non-existent) efforts to influence the succession to the crown prince of King Salman. Russian top Arab Mikhail Bogdanov said: "… we are against interference … the king has made a decision and I can not even imagine why anyone in America will get involved in such a topic and about it should consider who should govern Saudi Arabia, now or in the future, this is a Saudi affair. "
Thanks to the effective realism of the Trump government, Mohammed bin Salman remains close to the United States. Nevertheless, the Russians are determined to present themselves as a more natural and reliable ally of Riyadh than America. And the Crown Prince knows that this is the case and he likes it. Getting rid of a Foreign Minister whom the Russians knew was very close to Washington tends to increase Moscow's influence over Riyadh in the future.