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Rex Tillerson & Mohammed bin Salman © The White House

Saudi Purge Is Just the Start

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is popular with young Saudis, but is he playing with fire?

Saudi Arabia is in the news. Between November 4 and 5, a series of events shook the nation. First, a ballistic missile launched from war-torn Yemen nearly reached the Saudi capital, Riyadh, before being shot down. Second, Lebanon’s Saad al-Hariri oddly announced his resignation as prime minister while on a trip to Saudi Arabia. Third, Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, the deputy governor of Asir province, was killed in a helicopter crash near the southern border with Yemen.

But the big ticket item is a purge of high-profile Saudis who have been arrested. The list of detainees includes dozens of royal family figures, ministers and businessmen. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire with stakes in Citigroup and Twitter, is reported to be among them. According to Reuters, the allegations against him include money laundering, bribery and extortion.

The purge is being led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The official line coming out of the kingdom is that the move is an “anti-corruption” drive. But others see it as a power grab by the ambitious young prince who has sought to “reform and modernize the Saudi economy [and] loosen domestic social controls.” In September, authorities announced that women would be allowed to drive a car.

As per Frank Gardner of the BBC, Saudi Arabia is going through unprecedented changes in unpredictable times. While the crown prince is “popular with young Saudis … critics say he is playing for high stakes, risking a dangerous backlash.”

This is certainly not the last time that Saudi Arabia will be in the news.

*[Watch the video above from The Washington Post to find out more.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: The White House