Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrested senior princes of the royal family, igniting a new strife in the Kingdom as he sought to consolidate his powers and crush any opposition to him.
Sources from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, reported that Bin Salman ordered the launching of a large-scale detention campaign that included senior princes in the royal family.
The sources said that the Saudi royal court witnessed an abnormal movement late on Wednesday, followed by the arrest of several senior princes, and the sources did not reveal the names of the detainees.
The American Wall Street Journal revealed that the authorities arrested the two princes, Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, brother of the Saudi king, and Muhammad bin Nayef, the former crown prince and that the authorities accused them of treason.
Dozens of princes, senior officials, current and former ministers, officials, and business people were detained by the authorities at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh on the orders of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in November 2017.
Among the detainees were the dismissed Minister of National Guard, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, son of the late King Abdullah, and his brother, the former Prince of Riyadh Turki bin Abdullah, the billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and Prince Fahd bin Abdullah bin Muhammad, the former deputy commander of the Air Force.
Later, the Saudi authorities expanded the pursuit campaign and ordered new arrests that included political and religious elites and symbols in the financial and business world in the Kingdom, and the campaign extended to include more of the cousins of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and their children and families.
Three months ago, a Russian news website highlighted documents indicating a series of restrictions on several princes and business people in Saudi Arabia, which suggests that the Kingdom’s Governing Council has approved new repressive measures against local business community representatives.
In a report published by “News Re”, the Russian journalist Igor Infariov said that he relied on talking about this issue on documents published on a Twitter account bearing the name “old diplomat” who is said to be aware of the secrets of the Kingdom’s internal policy.
The website pointed out that the information indicates that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman extended his control over the property of Sheikh Ajlan bin Abdulaziz Al-Ajlan, including the seizure of a plot of land located north of the capital Riyadh, owned by Ajlan.
He also stated that the authorities also authorized the sale of the assets of a company owned by businessman Hamad bin Saeedan. Against this background, the assets of Al-Mustaqbal and Alia Real Estate were frozen.
The “old diplomat” drew attention to the fact that the restrictive measures imposed by the crown prince included elite representatives who were directly related to the ruling family, as was the case in 2017.
The writer quoted the Middle East Monitor that the asset freeze — which occurred a few days before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Kingdom planned for next Tuesday — heralds the imminent collapse of the Saudi real estate market.
Observers consider the move to impose restrictions on business people as a re-scenario of Bin Salman’s campaign to plunder more money allegedly to fight corruption, which has been going on for two years.
Against the background of that campaign, the Supreme Committee against Corruption headed by the Crown Prince arrested dozens of members of the royal family, government officials and representatives of the local commercial elite, and placed them under house arrest in Riyadh, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, on charges of financial fraud and misconduct.
Besides, during that campaign, more than 300 people were interviewed by the authorities. Later, Bin Salman mentioned that 95% of the suspects had agreed to the deal before them, and had transferred part of their assets to the government (about a hundred billion dollars) due to the alleged damage.
The campaign led to the return of approximately $35 billion in “looted” funds that were directed to the treasury of Bin Salman without knowing its fate.