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Saudi king sacks top military officials in new ‘graft’ cases amid royal power struggle

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz (L) speaks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz at the Diriya Palace in the Saudi capital Riyadh, May 5, 2019. (Photo

The Saudi king has sacked several military officials, including two senior royals, over what is claimed to be graft charges, sparking speculation of a stepped-up push to consolidate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s hold on power.

In a royal decree on Tuesday, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud removed Prince Fahad bin Turki of his role as commander of joint forces in the Saudi-led coalition waging war against Yemen.

His son, Abdulaziz bin Fahad, was also relieved of his post as deputy governor of al-Jouf region.

According to the decree, the officials, along with four others, face an investigation into “suspicious financial dealings” at the defense ministry.

The decree said the crown prince — who also serves as the defense minister — designated Lieutenant Gen. Mutlaq bin Salem bin Mutlaq al-Azima to replace Prince Fahd.

The decree was based on bin Salman’s missive to the so-called Anti-Corruption Committee.

Prince Fahd was commander of the Royal Saudi Ground Forces, paratrooper units and special forces before becoming commander of joint forces in the Saudi-led coalition, according to Saudi daily Arab News.

Since rising to power on the back of a palace coup in 2017, bin Salman, who is considered Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler, has spearheaded a campaign against alleged corruption in the government.

The campaign, however, is widely believed to be aimed at getting rid of the obstacles to the prince's hold on power.

In the most high-profile purge later that year, scores of royals, ministers and businessmen were detained at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel under tight security.

The majority of those high-profile figures later agreed to monetary settlements in exchange for their freedom and paid colossal sums of money.

Earlier this year, three senior royals, including the king's younger brother Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz and bin Salman's predecessors, Mohammed bin Nayef, were arrested.

The controversial crown prince has been embroiled in a number of scandals, including the assassination in 2018 of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

More recently, bin Salman has been sued by former intelligence agent, Sa’ad al-Jabri, at a US court for a murder plot against the exiled figure.

The heir to the throne has also been under fire over the bloody war he has been leading against Yemen and the harsh treatment of activists at home.


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