Saudi Arabia announced Saturday the arrest of 11 princes and several other current and former government ministers, in what appears to be a decisive move by Saudi King Salman to consolidate power around his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
News of the arrests was first reported on Al Arabiya, the Saudi state satellite TV network whose broadcasts are approved by the government, reports the New York Times. Among those arrested was Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, who is one of the royal family’s most prominent members and a major investor in Apple and Twitter.
Just hours before, King Salman had established a new anti-corruption committee headed by the 32-year-old crown prince. The committee is authorized to investigate, arrest and freeze the assets of anybody it suspects of corruption.
The unexpected arrests came on the same day that King Salman fired Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, Saudi Arabia’s minister of the National Guard. Miteb was once considered to be a contender for the Saudi throne before the rise of Prince Mohammed two years ago. His removal gives the crown prince, who is already the Saudi defense minister, tighter control over the kingdom’s security services.
It was not immediately clear if Saturday’s arrests were connected to the new anti-corruption committee. The royal order said the committee was needed “due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
King Salman has moved to stamp out dissent in the kingdom before his expected abdication in favor of Crown Prince Mohammed. Prince Miteb, who was one of of the few powerful princes from outside King Salman’s branch of the royal family, had been critical of the king’s decision to appoint Prince Mohammed as his successor.
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