Mounting discontent among leading Saudi royals over MbS' rule: report

Mounting discontent among leading Saudi royals over MbS' rule: report
Mohamed bin Salman's cousins are said to regret the crown prince's rise to power.
3 min read
26 August, 2020
Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman is described as Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler [Getty]
Opposition to Saudi Arabia's de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MbS) is said to be brewing among his many royal cousins in the kingdom, after scores of princes were detained. 

MbS' cousins have rejected the crown prince's rise to power, Arabi 21 alleges, after having seen more than 250 personal accounts of the Saudi royal family on Twitter and Instagram.

The news outlet noted that most of the accounts which hint at a rejection of MbS belong to Saudi princesses.

Anger in the Saud royal family against MbS is said to have mounted after the ouster of former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (MbN) in 2017.

Prince Nayef is among a number of royals who have been detained since 2017 when MbS began to consolidate his power after his father, King Salman, took to the throne in 2015.

The Al-Saud family counts thousands of members but only a handful of princes wield direct influence in the kingdom.

Arabi21's investigation revealed discontent among various lines of the Saud royal family.

King Abdullah's family

King Salman moved to exclude the sons of his predecessor Abdullah upon his death in 2015. 

King Abdullah's seventh son, Prince Turki, was quickly removed as governor of Riyadh province and his second son Prince Mutaib was later arrested.

Princess Basma bint Abdullah, and her niece Princess Dana bint Khalid, are said by Arabi21 to be at the forefront of the royals rejecting Mohammed bin Salman's rule.

The two princesses are alleged to post and re-tweet pictures of detained Prince Turki and the late King Abdullah.

Some of King Abdullah's grandchildren are also believed to post to accounts dedicated to the former Crown Prince Prince Nayif and even praise Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the king's brother and said to be a leading opponent of MbS.

Grandchildren of Saud the Great

The grandchildren of Saud bin Abdul Aziz bin Saud, nicknamed "Saud the Great", are reported to show great pride in their branch of the family.

Eleven Saudi princes faced trials in 2018 after being arrested over a sit-in protest when state subsidies for their utility bills were lifted.

These eleven princes were all descendants of Saud the Great, Arabi21 reported.

The economic overhaul has been linked to the arrest of more than 200 princes in an anti-corruption purge in November spearheaded by MbS, which analysts believe was a way of the crown prince entrenching his power.

Most of them were held at the palatial Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, which was turned into a luxury prison and reached settlements with the government.

Prince Salman

Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud was arrested alongside his father in early 2018, in a crackdown that also ensnared his cousins - the grandchildren of Saud the Great.

In the past few weeks, Prince Salman's sisters Al-Jawaher and Sarah posted tweets demanding the release of their brother and father, Arabi21 reported.

The two princesses tweeted pictures of their brother with Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, and Western officials, refusing to appeal directly to King Salman or MbS.

Prince Salman, a multilingual 37-year-old educated at Paris' elite Sorbonne University apparently espoused no political ambitions.

He earned a reputation of being a "walking blank check" for funding development projects in developing countries and was considered an unlikely target of MbS' crackdown on suspected opponents.

After being detained for around a year in the high-security Al-Hair prison near Riyadh, and later at a private villa with his father Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the prince was moved to a secret detention centre in March.

The New Arab could not independently verify the claims.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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