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Power and a 'brutal' battle against Iran: What the Saudi reshuffle REALLY means

Saudi Arabia's decision to replace its once-influential oil minister is being viewed widely as the latest effort of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to consolidate power and pursue what one analyst has called a "brutal battle for market access against arch regional rival Iran."

In a far-reaching government shake-up, Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree on Saturday in which it announced it was replacing Ali al-Naimi, who had been oil minister since 1995 and a prominent figure in 12-country oil producer group OPEC, with Khalid al-Falih, the chairman of state-owned oil company Aramco.

The move was widely predicted as al-Naimi seemed to have lost his authority at the last OPEC meeting in April in Doha when the group decided not to freeze oil production at current levels in a bid to support global oil prices.

Then, Saudi Arabia – the de-facto leader of OPEC – had initially signaled support for the freeze agreement, only to take a last-minute U-turn following intervention by the increasingly powerful and prominent 30-year old prince Mohammed bin Salman, who insisted that there would be no deal without Iranian cooperation.

Against this backdrop, some analysts are...