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MBS wasted little time in exercising his new influence.He was, by all accounts, the driving force behind Saudi Arabia’s decision to intervene in neighboring Yemen’s civil war in April 2015 — supporting the internationally recognized government against the Houthi rebel group, viewed in Riyadh as a proxy for Iran.“Keeping in mind that Bin Salman is still crown prince, the succession after his father’s death or retirement will not be smooth.” To understand the true implications of these sudden arrests, you need to understand a little bit about the recent history of Saudi royal politics.King Salman took power in January 2015 after the death of the prior king, Abdullah.“The arrests have now appended that quiet, implicit arrangement, opening the way for public conflict and power jockeying among royals and between tribes, families, and religious conservatives.” Hence why MBS rolled up so many influential people: Potential threats are being snuffed out.Among the arrested, for example, is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal — owner of the billion investment fund Kingdom Holdings and one of the world’s wealthiest individuals.
In September, the country lifted its longtime ban on women driving.
Nominally, the arrests are part of an anti-corruption drive spearheaded by the prince, widely known as MBS, but many experts say what’s really happening is the crown prince and heir to the throne jailing potential rivals to cement his own power.
“Corruption charges can be generated on just about anyone in government or business,” says Colin Kahl, a professor at Georgetown University who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East in the Obama administration.
Salman was already old for a world leader, 79, and was not expected to have a reign defined by tight personal direction of policy.
There are widespread rumors that he is suffering from some form of dementia.