Saudi Arabia: arrest of ministers and princes ordered

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King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia began a process of reform in the world’s largest oil exporter.

At least eleven princes, four ministers and “dozens” of former ministers were arrested in Saudi Arabia by order of an anti-corruption committee created hours before by King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Saad Hariri had been appointed to the post last December in order to lead a “unity” government. In his speech, the first minister accused Hizbullah and Iran of fomenting conflicts in the region. (04.11.2017)

The anti-corruption commission is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, who is leading an initiative to diversify the country’s income and not rely solely on oil.

The new agency has the capacity to issue arrest warrants and to prohibit travel abroad, in addition to freezing the assets of those investigated and taking other preventive measures before the cases reach the courts.

According to sources quoted by Al Arabiya, the committee reopened the investigation of two cases of corruption related to floods in the city of Jeddah in 2009 and the outbreak of the coronavirus, also known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (SROM), which caused the death of half a thousand people between 2012 and 2015.

The kingdom did not give an official explanation about the dismissals.

Changes

In recent months, King Salman made a series of changes in his cabinet and appointed young people among the highest offices.

At the same time he announced the creation of the committee, King Salman announced important changes in the kingdom’s authorities – he dismissed the head of the National Guard, the Navy commander and the Economy Minister – although no official source explained whether the measures are related to corruption investigations.

In front of the National Guard, Prince Mobeib bin Abdulah was fired, for reasons that were not specified, and he will be replaced by Prince Khaled bin Ayaf.

The Minister of Economy and Planning, Adel al Faqieh, was relieved by Mohamed al Tuwaiyri, also for reasons not clarified by the royal house.

The commander of the Navy, Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohamed al-Sultan, who is retiring, was replaced by Vice Adm. Fahd bin Abdulah al-Gifaili until today.

In September, Saudi Arabia announced that it will allow women to obtain a driver’s license, in a strong turn that broke a long-standing ban in the ultraconservative nation.

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