King Salman’s brother and two princes were detained on charges of plotting a coup, the US media reported Friday. This leads to a further consolidation of power by the kingdom’s de facto ruler.
With this the present rulers have removed the last vestiges of potential opposition to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a brother of King Salman, and his nephew Prince Mohammed bin Nayef were accused of treason. They were taken from their homes early Friday by black-clad royal guards.
The royal court has accused the two men, once potential contenders for the throne, of “plotting a coup to unseat the king and crown prince” and could face lifetime imprisonment or execution, the newspaper said.
The detentions mark the latest crackdown by Prince Mohammed, who has consolidated his grip on power with the imprisonment of prominent clerics and activists as well as princes and business elites.
Prince Mohammad is considered to be the de facto ruler controlling all the major levers of government, from defence to the economy, the prince is widely seen to be stamping out traces of internal dissent before a formal transfer of power from his 84-year-old father King Salman.
“Prince Mohammed is emboldened — he has already ousted any threats to his rise and jailed or murdered critics of his regime without any repercussion,” Becca Wasser, a policy analyst at the US-based RAND Corporation, said of the latest crackdown.