New Delhi: In a dramatic coup in Saudi Arabia, engineered by King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 11 princes were detained, along with four sitting ministers and several former ministers and officials.
King Salman has also decreed the creation of an anti-corruption committee chaired by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.
The new body has been given broad powers to investigate cases, issue arrest warrants and travel restrictions, and seize assets.
A no-fly list has been drawn up and security forces in some Saudi airports have barred owners of private jets from taking off without a permit, according to reports from the Arabic press on Monday.
The commander of the National Guard, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, has been summarily dismissed. This move strengthens Prince Mohammed’s control of the kingdom’s security institutions, which had long been headed by separate powerful branches of the ruling family.
Prince Mohammed has launched a series of reforms designed to transform the kingdom’s moribund economy and put the relationship between the state and its citizens on a new footing.
While, analysts see this move as a step taken by the King to make way for the succession of his favorite son many believe that the King wants the Al Abdullah branch of the royal family to be sidelined from politics and internal affairs.
The names of the other detained princes have not been officially revealed, though they are said to include the high-profile billionaire prince, Alwaleed bin Talal. Led by Kingdom Holding Company, the prince has holdings in some of the world’s major companies, including News Corp, Citigroup, Twitter, and several other media networks.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has praised Saudi Arabia for the crackdown on the nation’s elite.
“I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing,” Trump tweeted on Monday.
“Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”
The arrested officials are believed to be being housed in the five-star Ritz Carlton Hotel.