By Aaron Kesel
What is the probability that a helicopter crashes carrying Saudi Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, after the arrest of several other high-ranking officials of Saudi Arabia for corruption and money laundering charges, and after a missile is shot at its capital in less than 24 hours?
Earlier today, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal was arrested, along with ten senior princes, and some 38 ministers, on orders from the new anti-corruption committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
— حسن سجواني ?? (@HSajwanization) November 4, 2017
Less than 24 hours after the issuance of the arrests of at least 40 high-ranking officials a helicopter carrying another Saudi Prince, deputy governor of Saudi Arabia’s southern Asir province Mansour bin Muqrin, crashed in Yemen with 7 other high-ranking officials, Al-Arabiya reported.
A search of the crash site is underway, SaudiNews50 reported, posting a video of the ongoing recovery efforts. It is unknown what caused the horrific crash.
— أخبار السعودية (@SaudiNews50) November 5, 2017
According to Al Arabiya, among the officials ousted or arrested are Moteib Bin Abdullah, Minister of the National Guard. Prince Khalid bin Ayyaf has been appointed as his replacement.
Even heads of the three main Saudi Arabian media were arrested – “Alwalid Bin Talal (Rotana), Walid Al Brahim (MBC), Saleh Kamel (ART),” Ali Hashem tweeted.
The heads of the main three Saudi owned TV networks were arrested, Alwalid Bin Talal (Rotana), Walid Al Brahim (MBC), Saleh Kamel (ART)
— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) November 4, 2017
Others arrested include Walid bin Talal; Khaled Tuweijri; AlWalid Ibrahim; Turki Bin Naser; and more.
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) November 4, 2017
A second Royal Order was issued to discharge the Minister of Economy and Planning, Adel al-Faqieh, from his duties and appoint Mohammed Al Tuwaijri as Minister of Economy and Planning to replace him.
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According to a Royal Decree issued by King Salman on Saturday, the anti-corruption committee chaired by the Crown Prince with the membership of Chairman of the Monitoring and Investigation Commission, Chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Authority, Chief of the General Audit Bureau, Attorney General and Head of State Security issued the arrest.
As Saudi analysts were quick to point out, the purge by the Saudi King means that King Abdallah’s last remnants (Riyadh former governor and head of National Guard); media moguls; SAGIA and financial policy officials have been purged.
As Bloomberg reported, changing the head of the National Guard – an institution that’s been controlled by the clan of the late King Abdallah – “is not like changing the minister of oil,” Kamran Bokhari, a senior analyst with Geopolitical Futures and a senior official with the Center for Global Policy said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this leads to greater fissures within the royal family.”
Arabiya adds that King Salman also issued sacking and replacement orders for Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan, the Commander of the Naval Forces, who is to be terminated and be retired; his replacement is Vice Admiral Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghifaili, to be promoted to the rank of admiral and be appointed as Commander of the Naval Forces.
Additionally, Minister of Economy and Planning Adel al-Faqieh was replaced by Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, SPA said, quoting a royal decree. Commander of the Saudi Navy, Abdullah al-Sultan, was replaced with Fahad al-Ghafli. The king also replaced Minister of Economy and Planning Adel Fakeih with Mohammad Al Tuwaijri, his deputy.
King Salman also issued a decree forming an anti-corruption committee headed by the Crown Prince. Its powers include the ability to trace funds and assets and prevent their transfer or liquidation on behalf of individuals or entities, along with the right to take any precautionary actions until cases are referred to relevant investigatory or judiciary authorities, according to a government statement.
“The committee’s formation was deemed necessary ‘due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds,’ the Royal Order said.
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, also issued a message to every person who has engaged in corruption, regardless of their status: “you will be held accountable provided there’s evidence.”
As Bloomberg added, Saudi King Salman appointed a former HSBC banker to head the country’s economy ministry and removed one of the royal family’s most prominent princes from heading the National Guard. Then, separately, several Saudi princes and former ministers were arrested by authorities hours after the announcement of a new anti-corruption committee, with extensive powers headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news reported.
Prince Miteb, son of the late King Abdullah, was replaced as minister of the National Guard by Prince Khaled Ayyaf, according to a royal decree carried by state-run media late Saturday. Before his ouster, Prince Miteb was one of the few remaining senior princes to have survived a series of cabinet reshuffles that promoted allies of the crown prince, who is the king’s son and heir to the throne.
King Salman has sidelined other senior members of the royal family to prevent any opposition to the crown prince. Prince Mohammed, 32, replaced his elder cousin, Muhammed bin Nayef, as crown prince in June, a maneuver that removed any doubt of how succession plans will unfold following the reign of King Salman, now 81.
Some have suggested this may be a counter-coup attempt; this comes after a hectic news cycle in Saudi Arabia yesterday with the resignation of pro-Saudi Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad al-Hariri, broadcasted within the capital of the country, Riyadh. Al-Hariri announced he was quitting due to fears of an assassination plot, allegedly organized by Iran. This was followed shortly after by Saudi defense forces intercepting a ballistic missile as it was about to strike that same capital. The Saudi government accused Yemen’s Houthi militia of firing the rocket, ZeroHedge reported.
It has also just been reported via Twitter that there is speculation that all private flights and VIP departures out of Saudi Arabia have been suspended but this is unconfirmed according to HSasjwanization.
— حسن سجواني ?? (@HSajwanization) November 4, 2017
With this recent crash less than 24 hours after Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman issued a call to go after the corrupt, has a civil war erupted in Saudi Arabia?