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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, April 23, 2018

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Saudi royals, top ministers removed in anti-corruption drive

A new anti-corruption committee

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - King Salman of Saudi Arabia removed a prominent royal family prince from his ministerial post as part of an anti-corruption crackdown.

According to reports, royals and top officials were arrested in the drive and new ministers were appointed for the National Guard and for economy and planning. 

A new anti-corruption committee was also constituted headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The committee also comprises the chairman of the Monitoring and Investigation Commission, the chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Authority, the chief of the General Audit Bureau, the Attorney General and the head of State Security. 

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said police arrested 11 princes, four ministers and dozens of former ministers.

Reports noted that a senior Arab official said that Prince Miteb, son of the late King Abdullah, was removed from his post as head of the powerful National Guards and replaced by Prince Khaled bin Ayyaf. 

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men was also held. 

Economy and Planning Minister Adel Fakeih was also removed from his post and replaced by Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri.

King Salman told on state TV, “The committee has the right to take any precautionary measures it sees fit, until they are referred to the investigating authorities or judicial bodies. It may take whatever measures deemed necessary to deal with those involved in public corruption cases and take what it considers to be the right of persons, entities, funds, fixed and movable assets, at home and abroad, return funds to the state treasury and register property and assets in the name of state property.”

He added, “The committee may seek the assistance of those it deems necessary and may set up teams for investigation, prosecution, etc., and may delegate some or all of its powers to these teams.”

Reports have stated that the move is said to have been taken to clear any obstacle in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ascension to the throne. 

Now, the prince will have power over the kingdom’s security institutions, which had long been headed by separate powerful branches of the ruling family.

According to reports, all other royal members have already been sidelined to prevent any problems in Prince Mohammad’s ascension. 

Prince Mohammad, who is known as MBS among diplomats and journalists, replaced his cousin Muhammed bin Nayef as next in line to the throne, in June. 

Hani Sabra, founder of Alef Advisory, a Middle East political risk practice, wrote, “The hardline approach is risky because it will solidify the dislike many powerful Saudis have for the crown prince, but it is likely that MBS succeeds, and emerges from this episode more empowered. We can’t confidently project when a leadership transition will take place, but today’s developments are a signpost that MBS is moving toward the role of king. ”

According to reports, Kamran Bokhari, a senior analyst with Geopolitical Futures and a senior fellow with the Center for Global Policy said changing the head of the National Guard, an institution that’s been controlled by the clan of the late King Abdullah is not like changing the minister of oil. 

He added, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this leads to greater fissures within the royal family.”

 

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