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11/5/2017 Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia arrests princes, ministers in sweeping purge - Times of India

Saudi Arabia arrests princes, ministers in sweeping purge


AFP | Updated: Nov 5, 2017, 09:35 IST
126 Comments

Highlights

Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal was among those arrested.
An aviation source said that security forces had grounded private jets in Jeddah, possibly to prevent any
high-profile figures from leaving.
The latest purge saw Prince Miteb bin Abdullah sacked as the head of the National Guard.

The development came just hours after a new


anti-corruption commission, headed by powerful Crown Prince Mohamm... Read More
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia arrested 11 princes, including a prominent billionaire, and dozens of current and former
ministers, reports said, in a sweeping crackdown as the kingdom's young crown prince consolidates power.

Separately, the head of the Saudi National Guard, once a leading contender to the throne, as well as the navy
chief and the economy minister were replaced in a series of high-profile sackings that sent shock waves in the
kingdom.

The crackdown was reported immediately after a new anti-corruption commission, headed by powerful Crown
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was established by royal decree late Saturday.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported that the princes, four current and dozens of former ministers were
arrested as the commission launched a probe into old cases such as floods that devastated the Red Sea city of
Jeddah in 2009.

State-run Saudi Press Agency said the commission's goal was to "preserve public MONEY , punish corrupt
people and those who exploit their positions".

Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal was among those arrested, Saudi news websites said though there
was no official confirmation. The prince was not reachable for comment.

An aviation source told AFP that security forces had grounded private jets in Jeddah, possibly to prevent any
high-profile figures from leaving.
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11/5/2017 Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia arrests princes, ministers in sweeping purge - Times of India

Meanwhile, the kingdom's top council of clerics tweeted that anti-corruption efforts were "as important as the
fight against terrorism", essentially giving religious backing to the crackdown.

"The breadth and scale of the arrests appears to be unprecedented in modern Saudi history," said Kristian
Ulrichsen, a fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

"The reported detention of Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, if true, would send shock waves through the domestic
and international business community," Ulrichsen told AFP.

The purge comes less than two weeks after Prince Mohammed welcomed thousands of global business titans to
Riyadh for an INVESTMENT summit, showcasing his economic reform drive for a post-oil era.

It follows a wave of arrests of influential clerics and activists in September as the 32-year-old prince, often
known as MBS, cements his grip on power.

Analysts said many of those detained were resistant to Prince Mohammed's aggressive foreign policy that
includes the boycott of Gulf neighbour Qatar as well as some of his bold policy reforms, including privatising
state assets and cutting subsidies.

The latest purge saw Prince Miteb bin Abdullah sacked as the head of the National Guard, an elite internal
security force. His removal consolidates MBS's control of the kingdom's security institutions.

To analysts, MBS's meteoric rise has seemed almost Shakespearean in its aggression and calculation. In June, he
edged out a 58-year-old cousin, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, to become heir to the throne.

At the time, Saudi television channels showed the bearded MBS kissing the hand of the older prince and
kneeling before him in a show of reverence. Western media reports later said that the deposed prince had been
placed under house arrest, a claim strongly denied by Saudi authorities.

Already viewed as the de facto ruler controlling all the major levers of government, from defence to the
economy, the prince is widely seen to be stamping out traces of internal dissent before a formal transfer of power
from his 81-year-old father King Salman.

Top Comment
I wish something like this can be replicated in India against corruption.Shivendra
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At the same time, he has projected himself as a liberal reformer in the ultra-conservative kingdom with a series
of bold moves including the decision allowing women to drive from next June.

Foreign diplomats predict MBS, set to be the first millennial to occupy the Saudi throne, could well be in control
of Saudi Arabia for at least half a century.

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