Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has ordered that his chief of general intelligence be replaced by a former ambassador to the United States, the official Saudi Press Agency reported Thursday.
Abdullah's move came with his issuance of a royal order relieving Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz of his post and appointing him instead as a ministerial-level adviser and special envoy to the king.
To fill the vacated spot, Abdullah appointed Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, who will retain his current job as secretary general of the National Security Council.
Bandar served as ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005 and was friends with the family of former President George W. Bush.
No reason was given for the moves, which come amid unrest in the Qatif region of Eastern Province, where a number of minority Shiites live in the Sunni-ruled country.
This year, a man died in clashes between police and protesters demanding social and political reform in Qatif.
Last year, Shiite protesters in the Qatif region urged the Saudi government to release Shiite prisoners and grant more rights. Those protests, which were peaceful, also urged the withdrawal of regional forces from Bahrain.