Saudi Crackdown: MBS Orders Arrest of 207 Rivals, Dissenters
By Staff, Agencies
In his latest sweeping crackdown on political dissent, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman [MBS] ordered the arrest of at least 207 employees from different ministries under the guise of fighting corruption.
The announcement came Monday from the kingdom’s so-called National Anti-Corruption Commission, known as ‘Nazaha,’ which reports directly to bin Salman and is notorious for silencing his critics.
It is not exactly clear when the new arrests were made and the names of those arrested have not been disclosed by the Saudi authorities.
The politically-motivated purges by the Saudi heir, which began in 2017, have helped him consolidate power, sideline potential challengers, silence critics and eliminate royal family alliances.
MBS is accused of amassing huge wealth, drawn from the state exchequer, which has prompted many court officials to complain of rampant corruption and squandering of public funds. The complainants have in turn been silenced with force.
“Nazaha,” in a statement on Monday, said more than 460 people were investigated in the latest round, of which 207 people were detained on “allegations of corruption, abuse of authority and fraud.”
The accused, who belong to the military forces and a range of ministries including defense, interior affairs, health and justice, will be referred to prosecution, it said.
Observers have long pointed to extra-judicial execution of dissenters in the kingdom, who are denied fair trials or even the chance to hire lawyers to plead their case.
In April this year, “Nazaha” said 176 people from across the public sector had similarly been arrested.
Bin Salman, who became the Saudi crown prince in June 2017, has taken extreme measures to secure his power and to sideline all his potential political rivals within and outside the royal family.
There have been at least five major purges and one mass execution in the kingdom since the paranoid prince rose to power. He has ordered the arrest of top Muslim scholars, businessmen and royals, the witch-hunt against women activists and human rights lawyers, and the axing of top regime officials.
The goal has been to completely transform the Saudi political system into a more centralized system in which power is wholly and exclusively concentrated in bin Salman’s hands.