What Just Happened in Saudi Arabia?
Crown prince 'MBS' makes a risky move in an apparent bid to consolidate power
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2017 8:51 AM CST
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Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

(Newser) – The heir to the throne in Saudi Arabia ordered a series of stunning, high-profile arrests over the weekend. The upshot? Only what appears to be "the most sweeping transformation in the kingdom’s governance for more than eight decades," writes David Kirkpatrick in the New York Times. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (widely known as MBS) rounded up dozens of royals, ministers, and investors in the name of corruption, but the move is widely seen as a play by the prince to consolidate power and box out rivals. Details and developments:

  • The tycoon: The biggest name among those arrested is Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, who is one of the richest men in the world, reports the Wall Street Journal. He has scores of major investments in US companies, from GM to Apple to Twitter and Citigroup. He could face money laundering charges.
  • The rival: Also arrested was Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, who ran the National Guard. The royal cousin—he is the son of the late King Abdullah, while MBS is the son of current King Salman—had been perhaps the crown prince's most serious rival for the throne. An analysis at the Middle East site al-Monitor sees this arrest as "the most crucial aspect" of the purge.

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