In Shocking Purge, Saudi King Arrests Billionaire Prince Bin Talal, Dozens Of Others In Cabinet Crackdown

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Originally appeared at Zero Hedge

In a shocking development, Saudi press Al Mayadeen reported late on Saturday that prominent billionaire, member of the royal Saudi family, and one of the biggest shareholders of Citi, News Corp. and Twitter – not to mention frequent CNBC guest – Al-Waleed bin Talal, along with ten senior princes, and some 38 ministers, has been arrested for corruption and money laundering charges on orders from the new anti-corruption committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, while Royal princes’ private planes have been grounded.

Among those fired and/or arrested are the head of National Royal Guards, Miteb Bin Abdullah, the Minister of Economy and Planning, Adel Fakeih, and Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan, the Commander of the Saudi Naval Forces.

As the local press further adds, the supreme committee chaired by Crown Prince and billionaire stops “on charges of money laundering.”

In Shocking Purge, Saudi King Arrests Billionaire Prince Bin Talal, Dozens Of Others In Cabinet Crackdown

al-Waleed bin Talal is perhaps best known not only for his periodic CNBC appearances, but for his recurring on and off spats with president Trump:

In Shocking Purge, Saudi King Arrests Billionaire Prince Bin Talal, Dozens Of Others In Cabinet Crackdown

According to al Arabiya, among those sacked and/or arrested are Moteib Bin Abdullah, Minister of the National Guard, and Prince Khalid bin Ayyaf has been appointed as his replacement. A second Royal Order was issued to relieve Minister of Economy and Planning, Adel al-Faqieh, from his duties, and the appointment of Mohammed Al Tuwaijri as Minister of Economy and Planning.

According to a Royal Decree issued by King Salman on Saturday the anti-corruption committee is chaired by the Crown Prince with the membership of: Chairman of the Monitoring and Investigation Commission, Chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Authority, Chief of the General Audit Bureau, Attorney General and Head of State Security.

As Saudi analysts were quick to point out, the purge by the Saudi King means that King Abdallah’s last remnants (Riyad firmer gov. & head of Nat. Guard); media moguls; SAGIA & financial policy officials have been purged.

As Bloomberg notes, 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,” said Kamran Bokhari, a senior analyst with Geopolitical Futures and a senior fellow with the Center for Global Policy. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this leads to greater fissures within the royal family.”

Arabiya adds that King Salman also issued sacking and replacement orders for Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan, the Commander of the Naval Forces, is to be terminated and be retired; his replacement is Vice Admiral Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghifaili, to be promoted to the rank of admiral and be appointed as Commander of the Naval Forces.

Additionally, Minister of Economy and Planning Adel al-Faqieh was replaced by Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, SPA said, quoting a royal decreeCommander of the Saudi Navy, Abdullah al-Sultan, was replaced with Fahad al-Ghafli. The king also replaced Minister of Economy and Planning Adel Fakeih withMohammad Al Tuwaijri, his deputy.

Al Tuwaijri, formerly vice minister for economy and planning, had already played a key role in shaping Saudi economic and fiscal policy over the past year. Before joining the government in May 2016 he was Middle East chief executive for HSBC. He’s served as a frequent spokesman for the government’s economic reform plan on TV and with Western journalists.

King Salman also issued an decree forming an anti-corruption committee headed by the crown prince. Its powers include the ability to trace funds and assets, and prevent their transfer or liquidation on behalf of individuals or entities, along with the right to take any precautionary actions until cases are referred to relevant investigatory or judiciary authorities, according to a government statement.

The committee’s formation was deemed necessary “due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds,” the Royal Order said.

Some more cynical observers noted how MBS is quickly learning from XIi Jinping “how to get rid of enemies under justification of “corruption commission” & place “friendlies” in high places.”

Others arrested include Walid bin Talal; Khaled Tuweijri; AlWalid Ibrahim; Turki Bin Naser; and others.

Putting the arrests in context, the heads of the main three Saudi owned TV networks were arrested, Alwalid Bin Talal (Rotana), Walid Al Brahim (MBC), Saleh Kamel (ART)

As Bloomberg adds, Saudi King Salman appointed a former HSBC banker to head the country’s economy ministry and removed one of the royal family’s most prominent princes from as head of the National Guard. Separately, a number of Saudi princes and former ministers were arrested by authorities hours after the announcement of a new anti-corruption committee, with sweeping powers and headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news service reported.

Prince Miteb, son of the late King Abdullah, was replaced as minister of the National Guard by Prince Khaled Ayyaf, according to a royal decree carried by state-run media late Saturday. Before his ouster, Prince Miteb was one of the few remaining senior princes to have survived a series of cabinet reshuffles that promoted allies of the crown prince, who is the king’s son and heir to the throne.

King Salman has sidelined other senior members of the royal family to prevent any opposition to the crown prince. Prince Mohammed, 32, replaced his elder cousin, Muhammed bin Nayef, as crown prince in June, a maneuver that removed any doubt of how succession plans will unfold following the reign of King Salman, now 81.

While details remain scarce about this “Saturday of the long Saudi knives” – which some have suggested may be a countercoup attempt –  DPA confirms the Al Arabiya report that three senior state officials were sacked.

Salman relieved Prince Moteib bin Abdullah of his post as minister of the National Guard, replacing him with Khaled bin Ayaf, the official Saudi news agency SPA reported. Additionally, Minister of Economy and Planning Adel al-Faqieh was replaced by Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, SPA said, quoting a royal decree. Commander of the Saudi Navy, Abdullah al-Sultan, was replaced with Fahad al-Ghafli.

No official explanation was given for the sackings.

In recent months, the Saudi monarch has carried out a string of reshuffles appointing young people in senior state posts. In June, Salman ousted his nephew as the crown prince and appointed his son Mohammed to become the first in line to succeed him. The monarch on Saturday ordered the creation of an anti-corruption committee led by the crown prince amid a rumoured crackdown on suspected tainted officials and royals. Mohammed, 31, is seen as the driving force behind opening up the ultra-conservative country to the outside world and weaning its economy off oil.

Furthermore, there is speculation that all private flights and VIP departures out of Saudi Arabia have been suspended temporarily, similar to what happened following the last “gentle coup” in June when Prince Mohammed (MBS), 32, replaced his elder cousin, Muhammed bin Nayef, as crown prince in June, a maneuver that removed any doubt of how succession plans will unfold following the reign of King Salman, now 81.

According to the AngryArab blog, the removal of Prince Miteb bin Abdullah as head of the National Guard, means that “this is the first time that the National Guard is not in the hand of Abdullah or his son.

That put all apparatus of the military-intelligence network in the hands of Muhammad bin Salman.  News that Al-Walid bin Talal has been arrested and accused of money laundering.  This could be a service to Trump, who hates Al-Walid: the two fought it out on twitter during the campaign although Al-Walid tried to reconcile with Trump after his election but to no avail. 

Bin Talal’s arrest and the government reshuffle caps off a bizarre day for Saudi newsflow, which started with the resignation of Palestinian prime minister Saad al-Hariri, who announced he was quitting due to fears of an assassination plot, allegedly organized by Iran, followed shortly after by the Saudi defense forces intercepting a ballistic missile as it was about to strike the capital Riyadh.

To summarise today’s even more bizarre Saudi news day:

  • Trump urges Aramco IPO
  • Lebanon PM resigns
  • Saudis intercept missile
  • Major cabinet reshuffle; 3 Saudi princes – who run the anti-graft committee – arrested for money-laundering
  • A total of 11 princes, >30 ministers arrested on corruption

This is a developing story.

Military Analysis: Saudi Arabia’s Armed Forces

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  • Zainab Ali

    no zio wahabbi should remain not arrested in the fake oppressive royal family

  • Garga

    Despite his huge physics, MBS is a dwarf in politics. What they do is
    taking a club and hit anyone taller than him in the head, so he seems
    average
    MBS is becoming smart! Corruption is something they can charge and arrest every single Saudi family member and their closed circle of trustees.

    SO far they purged in short waves, but the real purge will come whenever he gets tired of his father on the throne.

    • Kennethllindsy

      Yes. His challenge is to be able to grant women’s rights and thus boost the economy. Probably going to have to Crack some heads to modernize KSA.

      • Garga

        So, you really believed this PR stunt?

        • Kennethllindsy

          Issue is not whether you or I believe it, but rather any potential challengers to MBS get the message.

          • Garga

            And what the message could be?

      • Mauro Craizer

        For boosting economy regarding women rights, they would have to become a secular state, erase Sharia and start first with women education, women are still 2 grade citizens in KSA, in Sharia Court, their claim must be supported by 4 men-relatives.
        Women driving is a PR stunt, they still have to be accompanied by adult relative co driver. Just like they’re “free” to walk in public-the same rule.
        I would send every stupid SJW for 6 months in KSA, they actually argued with on social media “how Saudis mad a great social step”, ill or half informed normies…

    • Brother Ma

      Minor traits? Gay?

  • You can call me Al

    Implosion ? – the scum have lost.

    • christianblood

      Indeed huge implosion will coming their way soon!

  • Gary Sellars

    “Palestinian prime minister Saad al-Hariri”

    Errr… he’s Lebanese. Dual citizen Saudi/Lebanese if i’m not mistaken?

  • Gary Sellars

    I’d love to see a civil war in Saudi. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of cunts (well, except for the Chosenites…)

    • christianblood

      I am sure we will see this in the next short while and this evil kingdom will crumple into dozens
      of warring, barbaric head-choppers.

    • FlorianGeyer

      I always enjoy seeing ‘Trouble in Paradise’ :)
      We are also witnessing the same beginnings in the US with the ‘ Trouble in the Democratic Paradise’.

      Long may it last.

      • christianblood

        Both U$A and Saudi Arabia are on the path to becoming failed states and the sooner they reach there, the better for all humanity.

        • Justine

          Google is paying 97$ per hour,with weekly payouts.You can also avail this.
          On tuesday I got a brand new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done .. It Sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
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          • Nigel Maund

            F off !…………Pyramid scheme promoter!

      • Morehungrythanever

        Civil war in the US would be the end of left wing, political correct idiots and get us back to a more grounded society. Right now things are so out of focus its incredible. We are going broke while we argue which bathroom to use

    • You can call me Al

      I sated it would happen a year ago and all I got was abuse; so I TOLD YOU SO …… await the Bahrain uprising ++ … tick tock.

    • Jonathan Cohen

      ABORTION RIGHTS IN MECCA AND RIYADH!!!!!!

  • as

    Now he seems to solidify his position. I wonder what’s he gonna do this Israel lackeys once he’s unrestrained anymore ? Another front with with Iran maybe ?

    • FlorianGeyer

      That’s possible as the Israelis are running around like headless chickens in mass hysteria :)

  • Hrky75

    Nothing shocking really. It’s an open secret that every member of Al Saud clan has his hands in the cookie jar called the Saudi National Budget – so it’s not that hard to find evidence to prosecute some of them for corruption. Hard thing really is to hide the evidence that implicates the prosecutor too. The whole Saudi government is one big contraption for syphoning off bns of USD for private jets, golden toillettes and villas in Spain. Also, Saudi corruption is what makes the Petro-dollar system work. Because without corruption there would be no need for western banks to launder vast amounts of money and hide it away in investment funds that serve as cash deposits for US economy.The real shock is the answer to the question what is the end game for Bin Salman? Take care of corruption? His father wanted to do that in early 90’s and was opposed by other members of the family. Impose on the clan the rule of new Bin Salman dynasty by removing all competition? That will likely end in a civil war and dissolution of the country. Both scenarios would be a win-win for the rest of the region if it wasn’t for the fact that Bin Salmans branch of clan was always staunch supporters of Wahabbism – so every scenario leads to crazy bearded monkeys getting more money and influence in the country and controlling 1/3 of worlds oil reserve…

    • Mauro Craizer

      The last line, some analysts said KSA has far less reserves than they officialy claim, that’s why they allied with Israel, they both want Iran gone, Qatar is in their crosshairs, first step to isolate and then attack Iran, Syria failed. Those are not steps of a country with plenty oil reserves, or better to say as it was before.
      KSA royals are the biggest hypocrites in the world, pushing all out Sharia Law for plebs, but they are living like you mentioned, I would add drugs and alcohol-top brands, sex slaves-off. forbidden but royals are not included. They’re living like Hollywood “stars” while saudi ppl is on verge of hunger, Gov. salaries late more than 6 months, it’s really a shithole.

      • dutchnational

        While You are mostly correct, saudi nationals are hardly on the verge of hunger.

        KSA has to change though and I sense the present crown prince understands this.

        Maybe encouragement is better than derision in thuis instance.

        • Typical Lib/Dim views. Kim Jong was a “breath of fresh air”, “western educated” and would open N Korea to the world. Same lame ideologues, like you gushed about the wonderful Arab Spring. You Obama/Hillzebub worshipers will never learn! :D

    • You can call me Al

      Yes and No.

      The house of Saad (Al-) has huge division across its family treads / family tree, they are imploding, which makes them dangerous maybe more dangerous than the Yanks..

  • Marjan Terčelj

    Games of power, money and oil.

  • AlexanderAmproz

    The Saudi Government didn’t kneeled in front of the US,

    but they have to belly dished or America will have attacked them !

    The Saudi can’t lift the a small finger without the Zionist Washingtonian authorization,
    it’s like that since King Faisal assassination in 1975 by a CIA brainwashed Prince !

    Saudia Arabia is just another caricatural US NeoColonial Empire member !

    • Kennethllindsy

      KSA is a US client.

      • AlexanderAmproz

        For the moment you are a troll at the best,

        for my own I have information from the Horses mouth !
        King Idriss, Batista, Strossener, Somoza, Videla, Noriega,
        Pinochet, Shah of Iran, Mubarak, Al Sissi, Marcos
        and al weren’t different or removed or kill at Once.
        For the US, Dollar and Oil market,
        to control Saudi Arabia is and was a commitment !

  • Kennethllindsy

    Predicatable house cleaning if MbS is going to move Saudi Society & Economy forward.
    More will likely follow as KSA veers from path post 1979 and tries to modernize.

    • Tudor Miron

      Kenneth reporting from his planet…

      • Kennethllindsy

        Hahaha.

    • “Modernize” means that the Saudi men will bang only donkeys instead of the current mix of goats and camels ?

  • Solomon Krupacek

    yeah, there was a great possibility og coup inside the family. this prince is very hated.

  • dutchnational

    KSA is trying to change, overdue imo. While consolodating power at the same time, they are reducing rampant corruption and distancing themselves from extreme wahhabbism.

    One reason is their growing smaller reserves.

    Soon andere Israëli Jordan KSA and GCC alliance?

    • Robert Duran

      wow..how naive

      • dutchnational

        Better naive than the vicious antisemitism most commenters here are ranting while foaming at their mouths.

    • Rodger

      Yup, I think the Neom project is to give a ‘state’ to the ‘Palestinians’ (or at least get a lot of them out of Israel and Jordan).

  • John Brown

    Looks like a Saudi civil war is on the way. I guess this is how Israel will tighten its grip on Saudi Judea Arabia and stop them from selling oil Yuan.

  • chris chuba

    I love how this was reported on FOX news. The host, who I’ll call, Stooge Mc Simpleton, http://articlebio.com/uploads/bio/2017/01/31/eric-shawn.jpg reported it as a straight story. The glorious Prince MBS launched an aggressive anti-corruption campaign.

    However, I’ll give the new FOX Jerusalem correspondent some credit (and start taking bets on when he is terminated) because he actually pointed out the issue that this was likely a cover for a power consolidation. Either the guy is naive or brave.

  • Nigel Maund

    The sooner the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia decends into civil war the better. Watch the Saudi Royal Family flee to their solubrious hidey hole mansions in Mayfair, Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Manhattan until the dust has settled! This latest bunch of odd happenings in Saudi Arabia stinks of insider house cleaning by Saudi’s rulers prior to major political and military action?

  • AlexanderAmproz

    Palace Coup in Riyadh
    http://www.voltairenet.org/article198647.html

    by Thierry Meyssan

    While the war against Daesh is drawing to a close in Iraq and Syria, and the war against the pseudo-Kurdistan seems to have been avoided, several States of the Greater Middle East are regaining the initiative. Profiting from the fluidity of the moment, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has brutally eliminated the members of the royal family who may be in a position to contest his Power. So not only has the regional balance of power been modified by war, but one of the region’s main actors has just changed its objectives.

    JPEG – 67.3 kb

    After seven years of war, entire cities have been razed to the ground in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Turkey and Yemen, but no frontiers have been modified.

    A new period in the Middle East

    It is said that Nature abhors a vacuum. The defeat of the « Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria » (or « Daesh », according to its Arab acronym) – which, in quick succession, has just lost Mosul, under the onslaught of the Iraqi army, Rakka, taken by the US army, and Deir ez-Zor, liberated by the Syrian army – ends a war and opens a new period. The failure of Massoud Barzani to force recognition for the annexation of Kirkuk by the Kurds of the PDK cancels the project for a new colonial State, a pseudo-Kurdistan, an advance base for the Israëli army against Iran.

    Although the Greater Middle East is devastated, particularly Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan, there still remain four States capable of advancing their interests – Israël, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. In order to do so, each of them will have to adopt an initiative before the meeting between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, which is scheduled to take place during the APEC summit in Danang (8 to 10 November).

    On 3 November, Israël declared itself ready to protect the Druzes, from the South of Syria, against the jihadists who had just attacked the Syrian village of Hader. Since the beginning of 2017, Tel-Aviv has been trying to create a Druze separatist movement in the South of Syria on the model of the one it had built with the Kurds from the North and Iraq. Mossad recruited Syrian Major Khaldoun Zeineddine, who attempted to declare a « Druzistan ». But he managed to raise only a dozen combatants willing to fight Damascus.

    On the same day, Turkey gathered the different jihadist organisations from Idleb in order to create a « Government of National Salvation », presided by Muhammad Al-Sheikh, and including Riyad Al-Asaad as Vice-Prime Minister. For the governorate of Idleb, Ankara recycled the idea of its Qatari ally, which, in 2012, had already founded an alternative Syrian government under the title of the « Syrian National Coalition ».

    There has been no sign from Teheran, probably because the Islamic Republic of Iran is the only one of the four great States which has beaten both Daesh and the Barzanis. It therefore has no interest in changing the deal.

    The surprise came from Riyadh. The royal family has not sought to impose a new regional order, but Prince Mohammed ben Salame (« MBS ») has shaken up the fossilised structure of his kingdom.

    The resignation of Saad Hariri

    On 4 November at about 11 a.m. UTC, the Lebanese Prime Minister, speaking on the TV channel Al-Arabiya, live from the Hotel Ritz in Riyadh, and in the presence of the Saudi Crown Prince « MBS », announced his resignation. Reading carefully from the text which had been written for him, Saad Hariri suddenly forgot that he was President of a government which included ministers from Hezbollah. He expressed himself in these terms – « Wherever Iran is present, it sows division and destruction. The proof of this is evident in their interference in the Arab countries, without mentioning its deep grudge against the Arab nation (…) Iran maintains a grip on the destiny of the countries of the region (…) Hezbollah is the arm of Iran, not only in Lebanon, but also in the other countries (…) Unfortunately, I have realised that certain compatriots are working hand in hand with Iran, and are trying to force Lebanon out of its Arab environment. Glorious People of Lebanon, Hezbollah has succeeded, thanks to the force of arms, in imposing a de facto situation (…) I want to tell Iran and its acolytes that they have lost. The hands that clutch at the Arab States will be cut off, and evil will turn on those who use it. »

    This dramatic text buries the religious Sunni / Chiite conflict and relaunches the racist conflict of the Arabs against the Persians. This is a form of progress, despite appearances, insofar as the occasions for war are more limited – the Sunnis and the Chiites live together, while the Arabs and the Persians are settled in distinct territories. In concrete terms, for Lebanon, this shake-up does not really change much. Above all, the text offers no indication of the reasons for the Prime Minister’s resignation.

    Saad Hariri added that he was afraid for his life. Shortly afterwards, Al-Arabiya explained that a few days earlier, Hariri had escaped an assassination attempt. However, first the Lebanese police, then Lebanese General Security expressed their doubts by denying that they had any knowledge of such an attack. Al-Arabiya assured that Rafic Hariri, Saad’s father, had been assassinated in 2005 by Iran – despite the fact that the same channel had persisted for years in accusing the Lebanese and Syrian Presidents, Emile Lahoud and Bachar el-Assad, of having ordered the murder.

    Once he had finished his speech, Saad Hariri telephoned the Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, to inform him officially of his resignation. The conversation was very brief, and he did not answer the question as to why he had resigned.

    The Saudi Minister for Affairs of the Gulf, assured that, contrary to what one might think at first, Saudi Arabia had not imprisoned Saad Hariri, and that he could return to Lebanon whenever he liked. Since the rumours of his arrest persisted, the Prime Minister’s Twitter account shared a photo of him in a polo shirt, with the Saudi ambassador for Lebanon.

    Even before Saad Hariri had finished his speech, his rival, the ex-Central Director of the police (FSI) then Lebanese Minister for Justice, Achraf Rifi, headed to Beirut from his Italian exile. As it happens, since Mister Hariri is one of the most profoundly indebted people on the planet – he owes a personal debt to the Saudi government of about four billion dollars – he is probably not in a position to take decisions which go against the interests of his creditor.

    At about 11 p.m. UTC, Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile, from Yemen, at the King Khaled airport in Riyadh. It was intercepted by a salvo of Patriot anti-missile missiles. Since the Houthis’ sophisticated weapons were supplied by Iran, observers made a connection between Hariri’s resignation and the missile shot, and agreed that they all interpreted the operation as a response to Saad Hariri’s anti-Iranian discourse.

    JPEG – 71.8 kb

    In a few hours, Mohamed Ben Salmane eliminated all other potential contenders to the throne and their principal allies.

    The seizure of power by « MBS »

    Events began to speed up. A few minutes later, King Salmane signed two decrees. The first placed the Chief of Marine Staff in early retirement, and also dismissed the Minister of the Economy and the Minister of the Royal Guard, the very powerful son of ex-King Abdallah, Prince Muteb. The second decree set up a Commission for the fight against corruption, under the presidency of « MBS ». The Press also announced the implementation of the new antiterrorist law, which incidentally includes dispositions condemning offenders to prison sentences of between 5 and 10 years for any defamation or public insult against the King or the Crown Prince.

    Within the hour, the Commission for the fight against corruption met and adopted a series of measures which had been prepared well in advance. Eleven princes, four serving ministers and dozens of ex-ministers were accused of embezzlement. They were immediately arrested by the new commander of the Royal Guard and some of them faced charges under the new anti-terrorist law. In the box were the three personalities who had been stripped of power earlier in the day by the King, including the ex-Commander of the Royal Guard, Prince Muteb. We learned later in the day that the bank accounts of the suspects had been seized, and that if they were to be declared guilty – a simple formality – their wealth would be transferred to the National Treasury.

    According to the Saudi Press Agency, the suspects apparently diverted money during the floods of 2009 and the coronavirus crisis (MERS – The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) – an accusation which may be well-founded but does not distinguish them from the other Caziques of the regime.

    Although no nominative list of the suspects has been published, we know that Prince Walid Ben Talal is on it. Considered to be one of the wealthiest men in the world, he was the kingdom’s secret ambassador to Israël. His company, the Kingdom Holding Company, a share-holder notably of Citygroup, Apple, Twitter and Euro-Disney, fell by 10 % at the opening of the Riyadh Stock Exchange on Sunday morning, before its credit rating was suspended.

    Contrary to appearances, it seems that the victims of the purge were not chosen because of their functions or their ideas, which seems to confirm the official anti-corruption story.

    On Sunday evening, a helicopter crashed near Abha. We learned that several dignitaries died in the accident, including a certain Prince Mansour.

    The success of « MBS », who has just overturned the oligarchy in order to install his autocracy, does not, however, guarantee his capacity to govern. Aged only 32, this entitled rich kid from a super-wealthy family has hardly had the time to get to know his people, and only entered politics two year ago. His first decisions were catastrophic – decapitation of the leader of the opposition and the war against Yemen. Having neutralised all those who could have stood against him within the royal family, « MBS » has no choice but to ensure himself of popular support in order to be able to exercise Power. He has already taken various measures in favour of the young (70 % of the population) and women (51 % of the population). For example, he has opened cinemas and organised concerts – which until now had been forbidden. As from 2018, women will be allowed to drive. He will soon have to abolish the sinister religious police on one hand and the tutelage system on the other – both to satisfy women and also free men from this charge – making it possible to kick-start the economy. Above all, « MBS » has announced that he wants to transform Islam in his country and make it a « normal » religion. He has declared that he not only wants to modernise Wahhabism, but also to cleanse the Hadîths – the golden legend of Mohammed – of their violent or contradictory passages. This is a secular project which goes against the practice of the whole of the Muslim community over the last few centuries.

    This strategy prevents « MBS » from waging a war against Iran and Hezbollah, and gives the lie to the current official story – it is impossible to imagine a war against Teheran because ever since the Revolutionary Guard came to help the Houthis, Saudi Arabia has suffered defeat after defeat in Yemen. And it is also impossible to rally the Saudis to the flag while « MBS » is radically reforming society.

    Retrospectively, this palace coup had been announced a few days earlier. « MBS » had indeed declared that it was necessary to be ready for a change which would occur in the night of Saturday to Sunday. It is obviously impossible that the collapse of the Lebanese government and the decapitation of the Saudi royal family could have been organised without Washington’s approval. An agreement was discreetly concluded with « MBS » that the public offer of the sale of Aramco would be launched not in Riyadh, but on the New York Stock Exchange. Furthermore, the anti-Iranian speech by Saad Hariri was preceded by a Washington campaign. Since 10 October, the Trump administration has promised rewards for the arrest of two commanders of the Lebanese Resistance, and presented a plan against the financial activities of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, while Congress has voted no fewer than five laws against Hezbollah.

    Hypothesis for analysis

    JPEG – 15 kb

    Saad Hariri, Saudi-Lebanese double nationality, is an illegitimate son of the royal Abdallah clan.

    No media will make the connection between the resignation of Saad Hariri and the purge of the royal family. In the same way, the Press does no more than mention the Palace Coup without asking the identity of the arrested suspects. It’s true that it has forgotten the way absolute monarchies work. I shall propose a different hypothesis for the analysis of these events – before anything else, let’s remember that at the death of King Abdallah, the Crown Prince was his friend Prince Moukrine. The royal family was divided into three clans – the clan of Abdallah’s son, Prince Muteb, the clan of Minister for the Interior Neyef, and the clan of King Salmane’s son, « MBS ». Let’s also remember the secret that is not a secret – Saad Hariri is not the biological son of his legal father, but a bastard of the Saoud family, born into the Abdallah clan.

    In April 2015, Crown Prince Moukrine was relieved of his functions. Mohamed Ben Nayef succeeded him, and « MBS » entered into politics by suddenly becoming the second Crown Prince. In June 2017, « MBS » managed to get rid of Nayef and had him placed under house arrest. In order to be not only the first Crown Prince, but also the only contender, he now had to eliminate the Abdallah clan. For that, he had to strip Prince Muteb of power, despite his control over the Royal Guard, not forgetting Saad Hariri, who could have offered help to the members of his clan in his quality as Prime Minister of Lebanon.

    If Saad Hariri has not yet been arrested, it’s because despite his resignation, he is still acting – provisionally – as the Prime Minister of Lebanon in order to expedite current affairs until his successor takes his post. Achraf Rifi, who has returned to Beirut in order to occupy the position, needs to wait a little before being legally nominated. Particularly since President Michel Aoun does not wish to rush events and intends to clarify the current state of affairs before going any further. This will take even longer since Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, did not hesitate to defend Saad Hariri during a televised speech on Sunday night. He confirmed that the Prime Minister had resigned under pressure from « MBS », and that this event constituted one more Saudi interference in Lebanon’s affairs.

    As if to show that no-one could rival with « MBS », it was also necessary to cut away the branch of ex-Crown Prince Moukrine. This was accomplished with the helicopter crash which killed his son, Prince Mansour.

    Neither Saad Hariri himself, nor Iran, could have anticipated the events of 4 and 5 November. The Guide Ali Khameneï had sent the ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati, to take a tour in Lebanon, where he met each Lebanese leader, including the Prime Minister. All the meetings went well, and the meeting with Saad Hariri ended with an exchange of congratulations. It was only a few minutes later that Hariri was urgently called back to Riyadh.

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    Moscow and Washington are the only ones who gain from the Palace Coup

    Attentive to what was going on, Russia accompanied the movement by extending its influence. King Salmane went to Moscow on 5 October. Although he is allied with the United States, he has, like his Turkish counterpart, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, bought Russian weapons – including S-400 missiles. Having abandoned his support for terrorism since President Donald Trump’s speech in Riyadh last May, he has managed to agree on a plan for the exchange of anti-terrorist intelligence. Above all, after having signed a great number of contracts, there now exists an agreement to maintain the limitations on the production of oil after the public offer of the sale of Aramco, which should favour speculation, and consequently, higher prices. This latter agreement has been finalised and discreetly signed recently in Tachkent.

    Then President Vladimir Putin went to Teheran on 1 November. He assured his Iranian counterpart, Cheikh Hassan Rohani, that the declarations of his US opposite number contesting the 5+1 agreements concerning nuclear energy would not be followed through. He reminded Guide Ali Khameneï of the Israëli demand that there be no Revolutionary Guards and no Hezbollah in Southern Syria. Above all, he agreed with the Ayatollah about a plan for the future Syria based on the idea that soon Saudi Arabia would cease to play a destructive role.

    Finally, the Greater Middle East has everything to gain by Saudi Arabia evolving from obscurantist dictatorship to enlightened despotism. In any case, the change in methods, leaders and objectives in Riyadh opens many opportunities. Each of the regional actors will attempt to adapt even faster in order to promote their interests before the situation freezes once again.

    Thierry Meyssan