KSA’s Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man ar­rests, despo­tism or wis­dom?

The Daily News Egypt - - Front Page - By Reem Hosam El-dein

By the re­cent un­ex­pected ar­rest and de­ten­tion of about 11 Saudi princes, and a large num­ber of cur­rent and for­mer min­is­ters, the Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man seems to be re­strain­ing the power of Saudi Ara­bia’s re­li­gious es­tab­lish­ments and in­sti­tu­tions that are turn­ing to KSA’s oil wealth to pro­mote their ex­treme ideas and in­tol­er­ant in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Is­lam, ac­cord­ing to New York Times.

Saudi-owned “Al Ara­biya” an­nounced on Satur­day evening the ar­rest of the prom­i­nent bil­lion­aire, Prince Al­waleed bin Talal, in ad­di­tion to at least 10 more Saudi in­flu­en­tial fig­ures and royal cousins. The ar­rests came shortly af­ter the for­ma­tion of a new anti-cor­rup­tion com­mis­sion headed by Saudi Ara­bia’s Crown Prince and formed by the or­der of King Sal­man, the Crown Prince’s fa­ther. State-run Saudi Press Agency said that the goal of the com­mis­sion was to “pre­serve public money, and pun­ish cor­rupt in­di­vid­u­als, as well as those who ex­ploit their po­si­tions,”

“No one is above the law, whether it is a prince or a min­is­ter,” said Prince Mo­hammed in a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view ear­lier this year.

In a state­ment, Saudi Ara­bia’s At­tor­ney Gen­eral said the ac­tions im­ple­mented by the supreme anti-cor­rup­tion com­mis­sion were un­der­taken“as part of the state’s ju­di­cial duty to com­bat cor­rup­tion”.

The de­tainees in the wave of ar­rests in­cluded Prince Mu­taib bin Ab­dul­lah, the last of the late King Ab­dul­lah’s sons to hold a po­si­tion of real power. Un­til right be­fore the ar­rest, he was head of Saudi Ara­bia’s Na­tional Guard, which ac­counts for nearly half of the coun­try’s mil­i­tary. Other de­tainees in­cluded Ibrahim Al-As­saf, a for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter, Adel Fakeih, an econ­omy min­is­ter, Prince Turki bin Ab­dul­lah, a for­mer gover­nor of Riyadh. Ma­jor busi­ness fig­ures in­clud­ing Bakr bin Laden, chair­man of the big Saudi Bin­ladin con­struc­tion group, and Al­waleed Al-Ibrahim, owner of the MBC tele­vi­sion net­work, were also amongst the de­tainees, ac­cord­ing to the Tele­graph.

Kris­tian Ul­rich­sen, a fel­low at the Baker In­sti­tute for Public Pol­icy at Rice Uni­ver­sity said that the broad scale of the ar­rests ap­pears to be un­prece­dented in the mod­ern his­tory of Saudi Ara­bia, Mail and Guardian News­pa­per re­ported.

An­a­lysts said that many of those who were de­tained, were against Prince Mo­hammed’s ag­gres­sive for­eign pol­icy which in­cluded boy­cotting the Gulf neigh­bour Qatar. They may have also been re­sis­tant to some of his bold pol­icy re­forms, in­clud­ing pri­vatis­ing state as­sets and cut­ting sub­si­dies.

The Guardian said that the new de­ten­tions show that Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man is “a risk-taker on a scale the Mid­dle East has rarely seen”

“The crown prince will say the ar­rests show his de­ter­mi­na­tion to root out cor­rup­tion, a pre­con­di­tion of a more open econ­omy. But few think the ar­rests, and re­lated min­is­te­rial sack­ings, are the in­de­pen­dent de­ci­sion of a new cor­rup­tion body, es­tab­lished just hours be­fore to re­place an ex­ist­ing one, rather than part of a wider reshuf­fle to cen­tralise all se­cu­rity au­thor­ity un­der Mo­hammed bin Sal­man,” the Guardian said.

Amongst the prince’s mo­tives, the Guardian ex­pects that his lat­est purge may be a sign that he is aware that op­po­si­tion is gath­er­ing. “He be­lieves the ed­u­cated pop­u­la­tion, lib­er­alised by so­cial me­dia, want re­forms to go faster, and those hold­ing back change must be ruth­lessly set aside” the Guardian added.

Be­fore the ar­rests of his fel­low roy­als on cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions, Prince Mo­hammed had taken away the ar­rest pow­ers of the re­li­gious po­lice, and pro­vided more space to women in the public life, in­clud­ing al­low­ing them to drive cars, New York Times re­ported.

Jane Kin­nin­mont, an ex­pert on Saudi af­fairs at Chatham House said that it is very ex­pected from Mo­ham­mad bin Sal­man’s to make such sud­den, brave, and dra­matic overnight ac­tions, how­ever, this is at the same time about go­ing af­ter cor­rup­tion and about po­lit­i­cal con­ve­nience,” said Kin­nin­mont, an ex­pert on Saudi af­fairs at Chatham House. This com­pletes Mo­hammed bin Sal­man’s at­tain­ment of con­trol over all forces of se­cu­rity, ei­ther to be di­rectly un­der him or some­one he ap­pointed, ac­cord­ing to Kin­nin­mont.

Re­gard­ing the ex­pected im­pact of Mo­hammed bin Sal­man’s ac­tions on in­vest­ments, Bernard Haykel, a pro­fes­sor study­ing Saudi Ara­bia at Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity, said that even though this was a step that had to be taken, “the ab­sence of a ju­di­cial process sends a chill down the spine of for­eign in­vestors”, ac­cord­ing to the New York Times.

On the other hand Michael Stephens, a studier of Saudi Ara­bian af­fairs at the Royal United Ser­vices In­sti­tute in Lon­don be­lieves that the move Crown Prince Mo­hammed made was a more re­fined way of mak­ing sure there will not be chal­lenges to his power.

While opin­ions vary on the im­pli­ca­tions and mo­tives of such a bold move, only time can show whether Mo­hammed bin Sal­man’s un­fore­seen ac­tions have paved way for sleek despo­tism or have helped evade a cri­sis com­ing be­fore its ar­rival and fought against pos­si­ble dam­age.

Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Egypt

© PressReader. All rights reserved.