Saudi Arabia in sweeping purge as prince cements power

Saudi Arabia pursued a sweeping purge of the kingdom's upper ranks on Sunday (November 5th), saying it would freeze the accounts of dozens of princes, ministers and a tycoon, AFP reported.

Billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal was among the princes arrested late Saturday, a government source said, immediately after a new anti-corruption commission headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was established by royal decree.

Separately, the head of the Saudi National Guard, as well as the navy chief and the economy minister, were replaced.

Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television reported that 11 princes, four current ministers and dozens of ex-ministers were arrested as the commission launched a probe into old cases.

The information ministry said the bank accounts of those arrested will be "frozen" and any assets related to the corruption cases will be registered as state property.

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said the crackdown "heralds a new era and policy of transparency, clarity and accountability".

The kingdom's top council of clerics also lauded the anti-corruption efforts as "important".

An aviation source told AFP that security forces had grounded private jets at airports, possibly to prevent high-profile figures from leaving the country.

The latest purge saw Prince Miteb bin Abdullah removed from his post as the head of the National Guard, an elite internal security force. His removal consolidates the crown prince's control of the kingdom's security institutions.

Analysts said many of those detained were resistant to Prince Mohammed's foreign policy that includes the boycott of Qatar, as well as some of his policy reforms, including privatising state assets and cutting subsidies.

In another development, state television announced the death of Prince Mansour bin Moqren, the deputy governor of Asir province and son of a former crown prince, in a helicopter crash near the southern border with Yemen.

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