Saudi Arabia detains three senior members of the royal family

Saudi Arabia detains three senior members of the royal family
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is considered the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times, Riyadh: Saudi Arabia have arrested three senior members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, including the king’s brother for unexplained reasons. Among them, two were the kingdom’s most influential figures. The detentions are seen as Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman tightening the grip on power.

The three men arrested are former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, king’s younger brother Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, and a royal cousin, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef.

A nearly same thing happened in 2017 when Mohammad Bin Salman ordered the arrest of dozens of Saudi royal figures, ministers and businessmen who were confined to Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel.

The controversial figure has been considered a de facto ruler of the country after he was named crown prince by his father in 2016.

Washington Post first revealed the news. The newspaper reported that the arrest took place on Friday.

Mohammed bin Nayef was the interior minister of Saudi Arabia until he was removed from his role and placed under house arrest by Mohammed Bin Salman in 2017. During his time in the office, he was considered as a close and trusted partner by US intelligence officials.

The 78-year-old Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz is the king’s only surviving full brother, who made comments seen as critical of the crown prince to protesters in London in 2017, but later said the media misinterpreted his comments.

Both the Nayef and Abdulaziz were seen as potential rivals to the crown prince, who is first in line for the throne.

The Wall Street Journal said the guards arrived at the homes of the royals wearing masks and dressed in black, and searched the properties.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman caught international attention in 2016 when he announced a series of economic and social reforms to the deeply-conservative country.

But later all of his good gestures gone ruined in a series of scandals, including the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul in 2018.

He has also been criticized over the continuing conflict in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia backs pro-government forces as the war made the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. He has also been criticized over the harsh treatment of women’s rights activists, despite the lifting of some restrictions including the right to drive.

In recent days, Saudi Arabia has been taking measured to protect the country from coronavirus.

Foreign pilgrims have been prevented from entering the country to perform Umrah or pilgrimage, and there are questions over whether the hugely important annual Hajj will go ahead this year. Islam’s holiest city Mecca was emptied on Thursday to allow a deep clean.

What does the arrest mean?

The arrest is a significant move by Mohammed bin Salman to strengthen his position. Prince Ahmed bin Abdelaziz is one of the last surviving sons of the country’s founder, King Abdelaziz. He is widely respected amongst older members of the ruling family.

Mohammed bin Nayef was next in line to the throne before he was suddenly replaced three years ago. As interior minister, he was credited with defeating the al-Qaeda insurgency that gripped Saudi Arabia in the 2000s.

Saudi Arabia: King Salman’s brother and nephew detained