Saudi arrests-attempted coup or crackdown to purge

Four powerful princes arrested by royal guards 

According to media outlet Middle East Eye- a purge of royal princes is under way in Saudi Arabia, after the arrest of the royal family’s highest ranking dissident Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the brother of King Salman, for allegedly plotting a coup against the king's son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Up to 20 princes have been arrested for allegedly being part of a coup to overthrow the crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, also known as MBS, Middle East Eye has claimed quoting to their sources.
Four names of princes arrested so far have been revealed. They are Prince Ahmed; his son Prince Nayef bin Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, Head of Land Forces Intelligence and Security Authority; the former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef; and his half-brother Nawaf. Ahmed's son is the highest ranking member of the Saudi armed forces known to be arrested so far
It is not clear yet that it was an attempted coup or an attempt by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is also known as MBS.

It is clear that Crown Prince MBS was not comfortable and consider both Prince Mohammad bin Nayef and Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz as potential threat to throne. What we read in history books about the power struggles among the royals to gain power or to retain it- that is what is played out in Saudi Arabia since 2017. The young and ambitious Crown Prince MBS has been trying to silent every critic and tame the possible opposition within the royal family.
He is going after every powerful figure within royal family who could potentially challenge his claim to throne. He is making it sure that nobody could challenge him when he becomes king in place of his father King Salman.
The royal guards arrested the princes from their homes. They have been charged to involve in a coup attempt to oust the King Salman and his son Crown Prince Salman. The Saudi authorities have not yet commented on the news reports so far. They are neither denying nor confirming the news reports.
A possible reason for the arrests could be a move by MBS -- already the country's effective leader -- to counter potential challengers to his succession after King Salman. He has gone after every potential challenger since becoming Crown Prince. He has already side lined many power princes to secure his own position. In 2017 dozens of royal figures as well as ministers and businessmen were arrested in what was seen as a purge to boost the power of the crown prince.
Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a once powerful figure as interior minister had been crown prince until 2017, when King Salman took away the title and put his son first in line for the throne of the longtime US ally.

Named crown prince in April 2015 shortly after King Salman acceded to power, Mohammed bin Nayef served in the position until his dismissal in a major reshuffle two years later that also saw him lose the interior ministry portfolio, which he had held since 2012.
The detentions cast aside the last vestiges of potential opposition to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and come as the kingdom limits access to Islam's holiest sites in a highly sensitive move to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus.
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 84-year-old father King Salman.
Prince Mohammed is emboldened -- he has already ousted any threats to his rise and jailed or murdered critics of his regime without any repercussion. He is giving clear message to opponents not to cross the limit.
Prince Ahmed, said to be in his 70s, had returned to the kingdom from his base in London in the aftermath of the Khashoggi scandal, in what some saw as an effort to shore up support for the monarchy.
Just before his return in October 2018, the prince had courted controversy over remarks he made to protesters in London chanting against Saudi royals over the kingdom's involvement in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. He is known critic of Crown Prince MBS and his policies.
Unlike in November 2017, when the Crown Prince MBS launched his first purge against the business elite when the crown prince was at the height of his popularity, and known both inside the kingdom and without as a reformer, MBS is hated more than ever in his family.
More than 18 months later, the crown prince's reforms are quagmire, the price of crude oil has dropped after Russia refused last week to cut production, and discontent is mounting in the kingdom over the crown prince's decision to seal the holy sites in Mecca and Medina from all pilgrims for Umrah - just months before the Hajj is due to start - over the coronavirus outbreak.
                                                        Khalid Bhatti 

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