In an article published by the Middle East Eye website, David Hearst tackled the major crackdown carried out by the Saudi crown prince’s crackdown on the key financial, security and political figures in the kingdom.
Hearst mentioned numerous aspects of Bin Salman’s action, including the death of Prince Mutain bin Abdullah.
“Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah’s demise had been widely predicted. He was in charge of the kingdom’s third military force, the national guard, and as Mohammad bin Salman had taken control of the ministry of defense and the ministry of interior (after ousting his cousin Mohammad bin Nayef). It was only a matter of time before he would take the scalp of Mutaib and put all three of the kingdom’s armies under his personal control.”
“The National Guard recruits historically from the kingdom’s tribes. On Sunday the bank accounts of the tribal sheikhs involved in the army were frozen and prominent sheikhs have been banned from travel. They were mainly from the Motairi and Otaiba tribes who had been loyal to the late King Abdullah. This was done to crack down on dissent.
We did not predict how brutally bin Salman would move against Mutaib. He and his brother Turki were arrested and charged with corruption. His arrest was signaled by websites close to the Royal Court, which printed initials and said the corruption was linked to military sales in his ministry. They created a special hashtag for the occasion which read: ‘Salman is confronting corruption’.”
Al-Arabiya broke the news that first 10 and then 11 princes had been arrested, along with 38 top businessmen and former ministers, according to the article which added, “In a style of government which is unique to the kingdom, the decision to carry out this purge appears to have preceded the announcement of the committee formed to make these arrests. This is how the young prince acts, a man who some Middle East experts persist in referring to as a Western-style reformer. He acts with total disregard to habeas corpus, due process and the rule of law. In his eyes, those arrested are guilty before they are proven guilty.”
Hearst noted that “this committee is McCarthyite in its powers and scope. The first thing to note in the decree which set it up, is that it puts itself above and beyond the law. The decree states that the committee (which bin Salman chairs) is exempt from laws, regulations, instructions, orders and decisions while the committee shall perform the following tasks … the investigation issuance of arrest warrants, travel ban, disclosure and freezing of accounts and portfolios, tracking of funds, assets, and preventing their remittance or transfer by persons and entities whoever they might be. The committee has the right to take any precautionary measures it sees, until they are referred to the investigating authorities or judicial bodies.”
“In other words, the prince can do anything he likes to anyone, seizing their assets in and outside the kingdom. Let’s just remind ourselves of what he now controls. The prince heads all three of Saudi Arabia’s armies; he heads Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company; he heads the committee in charge of all economic affairs which is just about to launch the biggest privatization the kingdom has seen; and he now controls all of Saudi’s media chains.”
“I am told by a reliable source that Prince Waleed bin Talal refused to invest in Neom, the mega city bin Salman announced would be built, and that was the reason why the crown prince removed his cousin. But bin Talal had also clashed with his cousin by calling openly for bin Nayef’s release from house arrest.”
“The other point to note is that all branches of the royal family have been affected by this purge, and others that preceded it. Just look at the names of the princes who have been taken out- bin Talal, bin Fahd, bin Nayef, bin Muqrin. The latter died in a plane crash, apparently trying to flee the country. These names tell you one thing – the cracks in the royal family go far and deep and extend to its very core.”
“Would all this have happened without another green light from Trump? He tweeted yesterday that he “would very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange, important to the United States!” Trump also called King Salman, congratulating him for everything he did since coming to power. The moves follow Jared Kushner’s third visit to the kingdom this year.”
“If it was not apparent to one and all, it surely must be now. The capital of insecurity in the Middle East is Riyadh, and moves by a 32-year old prince to acquire absolute power are capable of destabilizing neighboring countries and removing their prime ministers. Worse, this prince appears to be encouraged by a US president who does not know what he is doing.”
“Wiser heads in Washington DC, like the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or the Defense Secretary James Mattis must be tearing their hair out – or what is left of it. It would not surprise me to learn that Tillerson has had enough of trying to put out the fires that his president and his immediate entourage keep on igniting.”
Source: Middle East Eye