Saudi Arabia Arrests 11 Princes, Four Ministers And Tens Of Former Ministers

Saudi Arabia arrested 11 Princes, four ministers, and former ministers.

The announcement of the arrests was made over Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned satellite network whose broadcasts are officially approved. NYTimes

The stunning series of arrests has implicated three of the country’s richest people, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who’s No. 50 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index ranking of the world’s 500 richest people, with $19 billion. Also being held are the kingdom’s second- and fifth-wealthiest people, as well as a travel-agency mogul and Bakr Binladin, a scion of a one of the country’s biggest construction empires. BloomBerg

A sign of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman consolidating his power.

After the arrest of 11 Saudi princes and current and former officials, Saudi Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, a potential rival to the succession legitimacy of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in a helicopter crash.

Details are still emerging about why, exactly, 11 of Saudi Arabia’s richest and most influential businessmen and politicians are being held at the Ritz Carlton and other five-star hotels across Riyadh.

But one thing is clear: Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s purge Saturday of high-ranking leaders in the kingdom is yet another sign of the crown prince’s consolidation of power since he ascended to the position this summer.

Among those detained by the crown prince’s anticorruption committee over the weekend were Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the billionaire investor, and at least 10 other prominent figures. Separately, King Salman replaced the minister of the Saudi national guard, who controlled the branches of the military that weren’t yet under the crown prince’s control. Saturday’s move was announced on Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned Arabic-language broadcaster, as part of an anticorruption investigation. But the move comes just months after Crown Prince Mohammed is believed to have orchestrated the ouster of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as the interior minister. Mohammed bin Nayef had served as crown prince until Prince Mohammed’s elevation in June.

Although palace intrigue is often a feature of entrenched systems in which patronage plays an important role in determining who is in favor and who isn’t, what makes the present events in Saudi Arabia particularly surprising is that the monarchy rarely, if ever, airs its laundry in public. Princelings are privately sidelined and officials quietly demoted. The figurative defenestration of public figures such as Prince Alwaleed bin Talal could be a sign that the crown prince is sending a message to potential rivals to the throne. It also suggests that, if such rivals exist, the young crown prince is consolidating his power to fend them off.

The young prince is dismantling the old Saudi Arabia, says the government official, at least in how it makes decisions. “The consensus-based system is over,” he said, referring to Saudi Arabia’s traditional governance that involved a slow process of consensus within the royal family.  NPR

Included in the arrest was one of the world’s richest men billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal.

Even if you didn’t know much about Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal before his arrest on Saturday — in what was either an anti-corruption purge or a political crackdown — you’re almost certainly acquainted with his money.

The biography on Alwaleed’s personal website consists of a single sentence about his background (born 1955; grandson of the first king of Saudi Arabia), followed by a dense page crammed with details of his wealth and power:

Holdings in Twitter, Lyft, Euro Disney and Twentieth Century Fox; luxury hotels across the world; a tower under construction in Saudi Arabia that will soon be the world’s tallest building. Or his opulent palace, where Business Insider once reported the prince kept “a group of dancing, laughing, joking dwarfs” in his entourage, occasionally tossing them around as sport like human shot puts.

That last part isn’t in the official biography. And it would be a shame if all you knew about Alwaleed was his wealth because the personality behind those billions of dollars sounds no less extraordinary…

Alwaleed donated $10 million to help New York after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Business Insider reported, for example. But Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) turned the money down after the prince issued a news release criticizing the U.S. position on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.  WashingtonPost

Saudi Prince Mansour and several government officials were killed in a helicopter crash hours after 11 Saudi princes were arrested.

Prince Mansour’s father is Prince Muqrin.  Prince Muqurin is the son of Ibn Saud and a Yemeni concubine. When King Salman ascended to the throne Muqrin bin Abdulaziz was made the Crown Prince, which lasted just three months.  Most think Prince Maqurin, father of Mansour, was pushed out of the line of succession because his lineage would have made succession difficult.

In 2017 King Salman named Prince Mohammed bin Salman as Crown Prince to succeed him.

Saudi Prince Mansour bin Muqrin and a number of government officials were killed Sunday in a helicopter crash some 70 miles from the kingdom’s southern border with war-torn Yemen, Saudi officials and state television said.

The helicopter went down while the group was touring an area near the coast in Asir province, of which Prince Mansour is governor, according to a statement from the interior ministry’s security spokesman. The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known.

“While returning in the evening, contact with the helicopter was lost…authorities are currently searching for survivors where the wreckage was found,” the statement said….

Prince Mansour is the son of prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, who resigned from his position as Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in April 2015 to make room for King Salman’s son Mohammed bin Salman. WSJ

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