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Mohammad Bin Salman Partying Like King Carol A La 1938

By Mark Melin. Originally published at ValueWalk.

What is taking place in Saudi Arabia – a campaign of mass arrests of Saudi royals that is roiling the local elite with reverberations being felt worldwide – is actually part of a pattern of disruption. Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), 32, previously shocked the established ruling order before through surprising economic and foreign policy moves. But the latest represents the most violent actions yet taken against the nation’s establishment. The question is, with one prince lying dead after a shootout with Saudi authorities, to what extent does the bold move serve political purposes?


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Mohammad Bin Salman has been taking radical steps to transform Saudi society

Coming off last month’s Riyadh Future Investment Initiative conference, MBS’s vision to move the religiously hardline nation towards a more “moderate” brand of Islam was on display. The crown prince is further attempting to radically transform the economy, moving away from its traditional dependence on energy while liberalizing its culture.

But that is not the only area where the young royal has been brandishing his attempts to remake the kingdom. He took a notably hardline with Qatar, resulting in upsetting the traditional calm among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. This comes amid a bloody war in Yemen against a reputed Iranian-backed military force that has left more than 10,000 dead, according to the United Nations.

But this weekend’s surprise crackdown among Saudi elite is the most dramatic move yet, one that is raising questions about the prince’s true motivations.

Mohammad Bin Salman compared to Vladimir Putin

The charges against 11 princes, four current and numerous former ministers include money laundering, bribery, extortion and taking advantage of public office for personal gain, a Saudi official told Reuters. A newly created anti-corruption committee has authority to seize assets at home and abroad even before investigative results are known.

The events surrounding the Saudi crackdown are dripping with suspicious intrigue to the point that a spy novelist could not have dreamed up a better outcome.

Asserting that Saudi Arabia was in the midst of a corruption crackdown, security forces were dispatched to arrest Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd. They engaged in a gun battle with the prince’s security detail, killing him, a death that came as news that a helicopter crash near Yemen also killed Saudi Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, the cause of which has yet to be determined.  

The corruption arrests have included that of high-profile Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, reputed to be the richest Arab with a net worth of near $20 billion. The grandson of former Saudi King Ibn Saud and grandson of Riad Al Solh, Lebanon’s first prime minister, he also is the founder and chief executive officer of the Kingdom Holding Company, an investment trust with numerous high profile holdings including Citigroup, 21st Century Fox and Twitter. He is being held with other royals at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh, which is serving as a five-star jail.

Looking at the royal gyrations, RBC’s Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy, thinks Al-Waleed bin Talal is the shiny object. To her, the detention of Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah may have more profound internal political implications. Mutaib was in charge of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, which has been historically deployed to put down internal uprisings and he was the “clear favorite” of King Abdullah to succeed on the throne, but “MBS blocked Mutaib’s path to power.”

“While MBS’ supporters insist that Saturday’s move had absolutely nothing to do with staving off a coup and maintain that it was entirely about eradicating corruption, detaining Mutaib does also seemingly serve a broader power consolidation agenda,” Croft wrote in a Sunday research piece titled “Saudi Arabia: Move Fast and Break Things.” She notes that with private airstrips closed on Saturday, “more high-level arrests may be looming.”

Thus far, local reaction has been muted. But prominent Saudi columnist Jamal Kashoggi, while applauding the anti-corruption campaign in a Washington Post opinion piece, also noted MBS is “imposing very selective justice” and compared Saudi leadership to that of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Mohammad Bin Salman was recently affiliated with the Paradise Papers, which exposed questionable tax practices.

It was just reported recently that Prince Abdul Aziz, son of King Fahd, died of his wounds shortly after the exchange of fire with security forces “resisting arrest”, as was common in Hungary under the days of King Carol who killed members of the Iron Guard while they “were fleeing”.

This follows the recent dowing of a helicopter killing several Saudi royals – another favorite tactic of regimes of old and the topic of speculation among the deaths of some famous people such as Fritz Todt, the Duke of Kent, Leslie Howard, Subash Chandra Bose, and Wladyslaw Sikorski who all died in suspicious airplane crashes during that era, with manyproposingg theories that continue to this very day.

Mohammad Bin Salman

The post Mohammad Bin Salman Partying Like King Carol A La 1938 appeared first on ValueWalk.

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