Saudi authorities detains three royal princes over 'coup plot'

(AFP)
Saudi authorities have detained 3 princes including King Salman's brother and nephew on fees of plotting a coup, the United States media said Friday, signalling a similarly consolidation of power by way of the kingdom's de facto ruler.

The detentions cast aside the ultimate vestiges of potential competition to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and come because the kingdom limits access to Islam's holiest web sites in a extraordinarily touchy pass to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus.

Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a brother of King Salman, and the monarch's nephew Prince Mohammed bin Nayef were accused of treason and brought from their homes early Friday by way of black-clad royal guards, the Wall Street Journal mentioned citing unnamed sources.

The Saudi royal court docket has accused the two men, once ability contenders for the throne, of "plotting a coup to u.S. the king and crown prince" and could face lifetime imprisonment or execution, the newspaper said.

The New York Times also pronounced the detentions, including that Prince Nayef's more youthful brother, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef, had additionally been detained.

Saudi authorities did not without delay respond to requests for remark.

The detentions mark the modern day crackdown by using Prince Mohammed, who has consolidated his grip on power with the imprisonment of distinguished clerics and activists as well as princes and enterprise elites.

Prince Mohammed has additionally confronted a torrent of global condemnation over the homicide of critic Jamal Khashoggi within the state's Istanbul consulate in October 2018.

Already considered because the de facto ruler controlling all the main 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 strength from his 84-year-old father King Salman.

"Prince Mohammed is emboldened -- he has already ousted any threats to his upward thrust and jailed or murdered critics of his regime with none repercussion," Becca Wasser, a coverage analyst on the US-based RAND Corporation, said of the modern day crackdown.

"This is a similarly step to shore up his strength and a message to anyone -- which includes royals -- no longer to move him."

- Rivals ousted -

Prince Ahmed, said to be in his 70s, had returned to the kingdom from his base in London inside the aftermath of the Khashoggi scandal, in what some saw as an effort to shore up help for the monarchy.

Just earlier than his go back in October 2018, the prince had courted controversy over comments he made to protesters in London chanting against Saudi royals over the kingdom's involvement in the ongoing war in Yemen.

"What does the family need to do with it? Certain people are responsible... The king and the crown prince," he stated, according to a widely-circulated online video of the incident.

The comment was seen through many as rare complaint of the kingdom's leadership and its function in Yemen, however Prince Ahmed disregarded that interpretation as "inaccurate".

Prince Mohammed had edged out Prince Nayef, the previous crown prince and interior minister, in 2017 to become inheritor to the Arab world's most powerful throne.

At the time, Saudi tv channels confirmed Prince Mohammed kissing the hand of the older prince and kneeling before him in a display of reverence.

Western media reviews later said that the deposed prince had been positioned under residence arrest, a declare strongly denied via Saudi authorities.

The detentions come at a sensitive time as Saudi Arabia bars Muslim pilgrims from Islam's holiest websites to contain the novel coronavirus.

The kingdom has suspended the "umrah" year-round pilgrimage over fears of the sickness spreading to Mecca and Medina, elevating uncertainty over the approaching hajj -- a key pillar of Islam.

The oil-rich country is likewise grappling with the plunging fee of crude, its primary source of revenue.

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