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Saudi Arabia “Anti-Corruption” Purge Consolidates Power for Future Leader

Saudi Arabia “Anti-Corruption” Purge Consolidates Power for Future Leader

Dominoes falling in the Arab world’s largest economy.

Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia witnessed the arrests of 17 princes, including billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal. The arrests came after the government formed an anti-corruption committee led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, King Salman’s favorite son and heir to the throne.

Experts said these arrests happened as a way for King Salman to clear “any remaining obstacles to his son’s ascension to the throne.” However, it may have an affect on the world economy as bin Talal owns 95% of Kingdom Holding, which has stakes in Apple and Twitter.


Al Arabiya, a station owned by the kingdom and has broadcasts approved, announced the arrests. Those arrests happened hours after the government formed the anti-corruption committee, which apparently “has the right to investigate, arrest, ban from travel, or freeze the assets of anyone it deems corrupt.”

CNN reported that Saudi TV claimed the committee had to come to fruition “due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds” and will “trace and combat corruption at all levels,”

The de facto royal hotel, the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh, had an emergency evacuation, which caused rumors to circulate “that it would be used to house detained royals.” The airport for private planes also shut down. possibly as a way to stop “the rich businessmen from fleeing.”

From CNN:

At least 38 former, current, and deputy ministers, have been arrested on accusations of corruption. CNN has obtained the names of 17 people on the list including formal head of the royal court Khaled Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi media mogul Waleed Al-Ibrahim and Prince Turki bin Nasser.

According to Saudi TV, the three ministers removed from their posts were Economy and Planning Minister Adel bin Mohammed Faqih, National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and Naval Forces Commander Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan.

The three ousted ministers were replaced with Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Ayyaf Al Muqren becoming National Guard minister, Mohammed bin Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri becoming the Economy and Planning Minister, and Vice Admiral Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghifaili taking on the role of Naval Forces Commander.

Prince Alwaleed’s Arrest

As I said, the arrest of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal could affect the world economy. Bin Talal, and the others arrested, have had their bank accounts and assets frozen.

Since his arrest, his company Kingdom Holding fell by 10% and ended Sunday down 7.6%. It dropped 5% more on Monday. Why is this important? From Forbes:

Prince Alwaleed’s company also holds significant shares of Citigroup, Twitter, Apples and Lyft, among other investments. According to reports, the assets of all of the men currently detained have been not been seized, although Saudi banks have begun to freeze the bank accounts of those under investigation. Surely, the companies in which Prince Alwaleed is a major stakeholder will be watching to see how Saudi authorities proceed .

No one knows exactly how much he owns of each company due to the secrecy of his company, but it has caused Twitter and Citigroup shares to fall. From the BBC:

“From a sentiment perspective, this will hurt the businesses associated with the prince,” said Nabil Rantisi, the managing director of brokerage at Menacorp, a United Arab Emirates investment firm.

“Major investors may shy away from these companies for a while until they have more clarity on the outcome of the situation”.


Two Saudi princes also died in a span of 24 hours. Prince Abdul Aziz, the youngest son of the late King Fahd, died on Sunday. Some reports said he died in a gunfight while resisting arrest while others did not mention a gunfight, but said his death came while resisting arrest.

Prince Mansour bin Moqron, the deputy governor of Asir province, and other officials died in a helicopter crash close to the Yemen border. No one has revealed what caused the crash, but it has raised suspicions since it happened right after the purge. From the BBC:

Prince Mansour was the son of Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, a former intelligence chief who was crown prince between January and April 2015, when he was pushed aside by Prince Mohammed’s father, King Salman, now 81.

Mansour served as a consultant to his father’s royal court and in April 2017 was among eight young royals appointed deputy governors.

Mohammed bin Salman, Heir to the Saudi Throne

So who is this bin Salman guy? Rumblings of his rise began the past few years as deputy crown prince who had a lot of power for his role. He became the world’s youngest defense minister and placed in charge of the oil industry. From The New York Times:

He has a hand in nearly all elements of Saudi policy — from a war in Yemen that has cost the kingdom billions of dollars and led to international criticism over civilian deaths, to a push domestically to restrain Saudi Arabia’s free-spending habits and to break its “addiction” to oil. He has begun to loosen social restrictions that grate on young people.

But these moves have also caused the kingdom to shed “decades of tradition” within the royal family:

Never before in Saudi history has so much power been wielded by the deputy crown prince, who is second in line to the throne. That centralization of authority has angered many of his relatives.

All of these moves had experts believe his main objective was to remove his cousin Mohammed bin Nayef from the succession line and replace him.

It worked.

This past summer, King Salman named bin Salman as his heir. Saudis have come to embrace it due to bin Salman’s policies to transform the country and try to cut down on its reliance on oil. But critics in Saudi Arabia and abroad believe he could ruin the country by changing too fast:

Months of interviews with Saudi and American officials, members of the royal family and their associates, and diplomats focused on Saudi affairs reveal a portrait of a prince in a hurry to prove that he can transform Saudi Arabia. Prince bin Salman declined multiple interview requests for this article.

But the question many raise — and cannot yet answer — is whether the energetic leader will succeed in charting a new path for the kingdom, or whether his impulsiveness and inexperience will destabilize the Arab world’s largest economy at a time of turbulence in the Middle East.

Among the most concrete initiatives so far of Prince bin Salman, who serves as minister of defense, is the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which since it was begun last year has failed to dislodge the Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies from the Yemeni capital. The war has driven much of Yemen toward famine and killed thousands of civilians while costing the Saudi government tens of billions of dollars.

The prosecution of the war by a prince with no military experience has exacerbated tensions between him and his older cousins, according to American officials and members of the royal family. Three of Saudi Arabia’s main security services are run by princes. Although all agreed that the kingdom had to respond when the Houthis seized the Yemeni capital and forced the government into exile, Prince bin Salman took the lead, launching the war in March 2015 without full coordination across the security services.

Brian Katulis, who works at the Center for American Progress, met with bin Salman and said the prince’s “agenda was clear.” Bin Salman wants the world to know “that Saudi Arabia is a force to be reckoned with.”


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4th armored div | November 6, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Game of Thrones, Saudi Edition.

Seriously, if Islam (spit) wants to modernize and actually be a religion, instead of a death cult, they need to have public relations with Israel (instead of private ones).

The USA is the protector of these billionaires pretending to be a country. thank the bush boys for that as well.

    Bush? Hey, they bought and owned that weasel obama.

    Remember, they even had him bowing.

    Obama being caught bowing to the Saudi king probably caused him to be instructed to subsequently bow to every leader in the world, lest the world understand obama’s true fealty to the Saudi king.

    No free nation has been as corrupted as has the United States since 2008. None.

    The stench of the residual fecal matter still dropping off obama and clinton continues. Sessions is starting to reek of it.

    AG Sessions: they’ve got you in their pocket. All those years as a senator…your secrets are not so secret, are they?. We know you’re being extorted. Resign.

      Rick the Curmudgeon in reply to | November 6, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      All those years as a senator…your secrets are not so secret, are they?. We know you’re being extorted. Resign.

      Resign WEDNESDAY, after the election, so there’s no chance you’ll get your old job back.

    Tom Servo in reply to 4th armored div. | November 6, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    What appears to be going on in Saudi is quite a bit more complicated than is being portrayed, and I will cautiously say it appears to be very good news for the USA in general and Pres. Trump in particular, as King Salman is far more agreeable to Trump and the US than are the part of the royal family being “retired.”

    The crown prince, favorite son of King Salman is being given both credit and blame for this, but for those who’ve studied dynastic politics in other, older kingdoms, he is almost certainly doing this with the authority and on behalf of the King, who is using his son as front man for the operation so that the King can pretend to be above the fray and appear to be unconnected to the taking out of so many of his relatives.

    And there are fascinating reports that the sudden resignation of Hariri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, was also tied in to this operation. He’s been doing deals with the Iranians under the table for years.

    King Salman and his son appear to be doing a Michael Corleone move – all family business is being settled, and all of the players suspected of doing deals with Iran behind the King’s back are being taken out. At least one, Prince Abdul Azis Al Fahad, the youngest son of the last king, has already been shot dead, and another has died in a “mysterious” helicopter crash.

    This is big.

4th armored div | November 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm

we are so fortunate that the Bush Dynasty – JEB!, and the Clinton Crime Family did not win.
does anyone in politics, besides DONALD J TRUMP, have balls ?
anyone else in public life, though he is wrong at times, who is not afraid to speak up ?

So how does someone like Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who has never done a lick of work in his entire life, become a billionaire? Oh, right…corruption.

    Tom Servo in reply to snopercod. | November 6, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Hard to pick on the Saudi’s for this when we’ve got our own homegrown list of the megawealthy who have never worked; The Clintons, John Kerry, Biden, and now Obama…

ugottabekiddinme | November 6, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Who controls the religious enforcers in Saudi? That police force certainly may not be too thrilled with modernization trends, and thus could pose a serious security risk.

As I recall, modernizing a Muslim nation too fast for the traditionalists was a problem that dogged the last Shah of Iran, as well, in part fueling violent revolution there in 1979.

Of course, the Shah and his secret police were no doubt culpable of many horrific alleged abuses, including torture of domestic enemies, while Jimmy Carter’s feckless “leadership” did not help.

Let us hope Saudi Arabia’s development follows a less bloody path.

    4th armored div in reply to ugottabekiddinme. | November 6, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    -> hope Saudi Arabia’s development follows a less bloody path.<-
    not very likely, unless the royals get the mullahs to preach in support – money goes a long way for that.

    the 'people' also need a mental mindset change to permit female liberation – being able to drive, get a job for independent living. not an easy task in that 'traditional' society that still does beheadings, 2 witnesses for rape charges etc.

    if it were not for DJT, that process would not have been started. and unlike Jimmah – DJT has BALLS.

      Tom Servo in reply to 4th armored div. | November 6, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      Give up thoughts of liberalization of womens rights, and other pie in the sky thoughts – arab countries cannot handle any of that, and they will quickly devolve into what Libya is today when a strong authority is removed.

      This is about the approaching great war between Sunni and Shiite, the one that has been building for 1000 years, and I fully except the middle east to lose 50% of its population to this war over the next 30 years. Maybe after this war, just maybe, when most of their cities have been burned and most of their people are dead (and I believe that will happen to BOTH sides) then they may finally be ready to consider a new way of living.

      Or they may just sink back into the desperate barbarism that has been the fallback option for that part of the world for thousands of years now. I don’t really care either way anymore.

Everyone wondering how this modern Arab/Moslem mess got started? Well I have the answer. It is all due to WW1 and its aftermath. Actually, the trigger was the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, in July of 1914.

    Tom Servo in reply to Stan25. | November 6, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    The Ottoman Empire had controlled the entire region for 400 years before WW1, and to this day no one has come up with any stable political scheme for the remains of that empire.

    Much like the Balkans have never recovered from the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Watching an interesting doc. on Thinthread called Good American. It is crazy why NSA shut it down. I sure hope NSA has their act together because we have some major stuff brewing. We need to revisit the 911 report and do it right.

One way to “drain the swamp”.