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Daily News Analysis

Bin Salman in greatest power-grab gamble

Crescent International

Sunday Nov 05, 2017

The greatest hurdle in the way of Muhammad bin Salman to become king is Moteib bin Abdullah, head of the National Guard.

In a new twist, King Salman created on November 04 a new committee charged with fighting ‘corruption’ in the kingdom.

One of its first targets was Moteib who was removed as head of National Guard. At least 11 other princes and four serving ministers were among 40 people arrested in the latest sweep.

Also sacked was Economy Minister Adel al-Faqieh.

The ‘anti-corruption’ committee has been given sweeping powers. Not surprisingly, the decree appointed Bin Salman to lead the committee so that he would have a freehand.

The committee is totally exempt from all “laws, regulations, instructions, orders and decision”. Thus, Bin Salman can order the arrest of anyone, throw him in prison and it cannot be challenged in a court of law.

Further, the committee also has the authority to freeze the victims’ bank accounts, confiscate all assets, and even impose a travel ban so that they cannot escape abroad to plot revenge against Bin Salman or his demented father.

“Saudi” Arabia is virtually a lawless society. People have few if any rights. The king and a small coterie of people around him can have any ruling imposed through the kangaroo courts.

Similarly, they can have the most serious charges dismissed through a simple phone call to the judge. The case of a celebrity preacher, Layhan al Ghamdi who had raped and murdered his five-year-old daughter Lamya in December 2014 after accusing her of “committing adultery”, was let go free.

Even with such sweeping powers, Bin Salman did not feel confident enough to move against Moteib. The reason is Moteib enjoys widespread support among members of the National Guard.

But under the guise of fighting corruption and simultaneously arresting a number of other princes and several serving ministers, Bin Salman has tried to cover his bases.

The big question is whether Bin Salman will be able to get away with the latest attempt at eliminating those he considers as hurdles in his way to absolute power.

By taking on too many princes, even if corrupt and there is no doubt they are but Bin Salman is not clean either, he may have bitten more than he can chew.

The Bani Saud kingdom may be entering its twilight zone.

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