Saudi Arabia was the locus of many developments over the weekend. A missile fired from Yemen penetrated deep into Saudi territory, before it was intercepted near Riyadh’s airport by the Kingdom’s air defense, with Iran being blamed. A Saudi Prince and deputy governor of Asir province was killed in a helicopter crash near the Yemen border, with no information being released about the cause of the crash or about the welfare of the other officials who were on board. Dozens of Saudi Princes and ministers, including one of the richest men in the world, Prince Alaweed Bin Talal were suddenly placed under arrest on Saturday at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton and at other 5-star hotels for an alleged corruption probe.
Although the purge is being presented as a reformist maneuver by the young heir apparent, Prince Mohammed bin Salman (aka MBS), this seems particularly odd in the case of Bin Talal, who is a Liberal Feminist, in addition to being a major shareholder of Citigroup, 21st Century Fox and Twitter.
These moves are seen as a coup to sideline all contenders to the Saudi throne and to cement the reign of MBS, as he seeks to bypass the previously established Saudi rules of accession.