Yesterday we predicted a return to MbS' infamous Ritz-Carlton Riyadh shakedown of 2017 after a dramatic Friday morning raid on the homes of King Salman's brother, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al Saud, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al Saud.
All eyes are on the spread of the deadly coronavirus, so what better time to initiate a broader crackdown (or at least dramatically restart the 2017-2018 purge), than when world leaders are distracted by making sure their societies survive a potential apocalyptic pandemic?
The pair, which happen to be the kingdom's top most powerful royals aside from MbS, having both in the past been in charge of Saudi armed forces and intelligence in the post of Interior Minister, were arrested for allegedly plotting a coup to unseat the king and crown prince. Of course any level of evidence was not forthcoming. Treason could bring the death penalty.
It appears the resumption of MbS' purge of any power rivals or centers of influence is back on after a year-long lull following the Oct. 2018 murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is officially back on.
The WSJ reports: "Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has embarked on a broad security crackdown by rounding up royal rivals, government officials and military officers in an effort to quash potential challenges to his power, Saudi royals and advisers familiar with the matter said Saturday."
This includes "dozens of Interior Ministry officials, senior army officers and others suspected of supporting a coup attempt...".
With Gov. Cuomo declaring New York in a 'state of emergency' Saturday after a new spike in Covid-19 cases, the crackdown in the Saudi kingdom has barely made a dent in terms of competing with the dozens of coronavirus headlines this weekend.
And yet hundreds of princes and high Saudi officials are now experiencing chills of a very different sort:
The security sweep has sent a chill across the leadership of Saudi Arabia, where Prince Mohammed has spent three years consolidating power in anticipation of his expected ascension to the throne when 84-year-old King Salman dies, or if he decides to abdicate.
MbS suddenly has an overwhelming outpouring of public "support" by nervous allies within the royal family, the WSJ reports further.
One Saudi government official told the Journal it's still a mystery as to why black-clad and masked commandos showed up to haul bin Nayef and Prince Ahmed away early Friday morning.
“The king was seen just a day earlier, so he is OK and none of us are aware of any plans of abdication,” the anonymous Saudi government adviser said. “The trigger for the arrests is still a mystery.”