Diplomatic sources revealed to Saudi Leaks the secrets of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrest to his uncle Prince Ahmed Abdel Aziz and the absence of his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, ever since.
The sources pointed out that Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the last of the remaining seven sons (he and King Salman), belongs to the royal family’s most influential Sudairi wing.
He is one of the three (in addition to King Abdullah and King Salman) that Nawaf Obaid (a former adviser to the government) described as the most popular in the royal family.
Prince Ahmed left the Kingdom for London in November 2017, before a campaign of arrests of princes from the royal family at the Ritz Hotel in Riyadh.
Then he returned with American and European guarantees that he would not be attacked in November 2018. He was betrayed then and arrested on the orders of Mohammed bin Salman and the former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef on March 7, 2020, on charges of plotting a coup in the Kingdom.
Bin Salman abused members of the royal family to enhance his chances of seizing the throne. However, what stands out is the relationship of Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz’s arrest to King Salman’s complete absence from the political scene, most of which he spent alone in Neom. He did not meet any of the princes or officials.
Before the arrest on March 7, 2020, King Salman exercised his natural role as a king, receiving state kings and officials, attending ministerial appointments and ambassadors, sharing joys and sorrows, meeting members of the ruling family, and receiving citizens’ delegations.
But after the arrest of Prince Ahmed, the King was absent from all these occasions!
Examples of King Salman’s activities before March 7, 2020, include: he went to Oman to offer condolences on the death of Sultan Qaboos on January 13. He received the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus on January 19.
He received the princes, the mufti and citizens on January 20 performed the funeral prayer for Prince Bandar bin Muhammad on January 21 and presided over the cabinet session on January 21 and 28.
He attended the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival on January 26, received the Prime Minister of the State of Kuwait on February 11, and presided over the Cabinet session on February 25.
All the examples mentioned indicating the frequent meetings and activities of the King and his follow-up to the affairs of the Kingdom in a normal way, including two important meetings that King Salman held before the arrest of Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz on March 7, 2020.
The first was the reception of the US Secretary of State on February 20, and the second: the reception of the British Foreign Minister on March 5. After the second meeting, Prince Ahmed and Prince Muhammad bin Nayef were arrested a day and a half later.
It is no secret that Ibn Salman’s reputation has fallen internationally after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and there has been much talk about the desire to replace him and that Prince Ahmed is one of the most prominent candidates for his position in the family and his popularity.
It may be that King Salman’s meeting with the foreign ministers of America and Britain included understandings or pressures on the necessity of removing bin Salman from the throne.
Observers believe that King Salman may have succumbed to pressure in this direction. Still, bin Salman preempted matters, arrested his uncle and cousin, withheld the King from the princes and absent him in Neom for more than a year and five months later.
This means that Ibn Salman not only got rid of his rivals in the royal family but also made a soft coup against his father, the King!
And the King appeared (in his presence) after the arrest of Prince Ahmed twice only in Riyadh.
The first was on March 8, 2020 (a day after the arrest), to accept the assignments of the ambassadors of Uruguay and Ukraine, in a marginal event, as if the aim was to convey a message that what happened was with the King’s consent, and the second two days later while he was chairing the Council of Ministers.
After that, the King was absent from direct meetings until his departure for Neom in August, allegedly for a few days of recreation, which lasted about a year and 5 months.
Except for his meeting with the Sultan of Oman in July 2021 (which was a sham), King Salman has not met with any Arab or foreign leader or official for nearly two years.
King Salman’s activities were limited to phone calls and visual appearances (in short and clipped videos) in cabinet meetings and other activities. It was not announced that he had met any minister, official, or Prince, in addition to his straight distance from the capital, Riyadh.
Whether bin Salman detained his father or not, indeed, he does not hesitate to do so, as he is the one who abused his cousins, arrested his mother and brother, and tried to kill King Abdullah previously.
Observers unanimously agree that Mohammed bin Salman’s turbulent personality will not prevent him from confining his father, limiting his role and making him absent if he is forced to do so, especially since he lives in internal and external isolation.