It was one of the largest sweeps in Saudi Arabia’s history. Dozens of princes, ministers and high-ranking officials were arrested in what was termed an anti-corruption sweep. But is this purge really about corruption or an attempt by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to consolidate his power? Press TV has put that question to London-based journalist Aly el-Kabbany and secretary general of the Next Century Foundation William Morris, who happened to have widely differing views on the Saudi royal purge.
William Morris said that what is happening these days in Saudi Arabia’s political arena is part of Mohammed bin Salman’s “encouraging” reform plan which aims at soothing public dissatisfaction.
“It is very refreshing. We have long had a need for a clean-out in Saudi Arabia,” Morris said.
According to the analyst, by implementing his reform package, Prince Mohammed intends to replace the aged and incompetent Saudi princes with the young and skilled generation in a bid to avoid possible anti-establishment tensions in the future.
He said this is not the first time that a country in the Middle East is reforming its power structure, citing the case of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as an example who enforced similar reforms back in 2000.
“That is quite distinct from foreign policy. Let me say I have issue with Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. But, Saudi Arabia’s internal policy under Mohammed bin Salman is very encouraging,” Morris observed.
Aly el-Kabbany, however, disagreed with Morris, exclaiming how a young corrupt prince coming from a family with a long history of corruption can fight corruption.
“Saudi Arabia is a state of corruption. His [Mohammed bin Salman] father is the king of corruption. This 32-year-old man bought a boat and put it into the Mediterranean for more than half a million dollars. From where did he get this money and from where did he get his wealth except through corruption?” he asked.
This so-called anti-corruption campaign, he continued, is originally a tool given to Mohammed by his father to eliminate all his royal opponents who have the potential to challenge him and stand against his wrong policies.
“The conspiracy of [King] Salman is to put Mohammad, his son, as the absolute, autocratic ruler of Saudi Arabia without even power sharing among the members of family. So, this will create a big problem and it might actually shake the throne of Al Saud and end the kingdom of Abdulaziz,” he analyzed.
Among those detained as part of the Saudi royal purge were influential figures such as billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, Saudi Arabia’s best-known international investor.
A royal decree said the crackdown was in response to “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money.”