A whistleblower website says the most recent purge ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman actually centered on those of the country’s servicemen, whom the royal suspected of allegiance to his ill-fated predecessor Mohammed bin Nayef.
It was reported on Monday, that the campaign had targeted as many as 207 employees from different ministries under the guise of fighting corruption.
On Tuesday, however, Saudi Leaks, the website that exclusively reports on malpractices inside the kingdom, roundly rejected the announcement that had been made by the kingdom’s so-called National Anti-Corruption Commission. Known as ‘Nazaha,’ the body reports directly to bin Salman and is notorious for silencing his critics.
The website said the campaign had been conducted by “a Saudi security force” against mostly “military personnel on charges of loyalty to former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.”
Nayef, 61, was Saudi Arabia’s next in line for the throne until he was removed to be replaced with bin Salman four years ago. After the dismissal, Nayef was also placed under house arrest and relieved of all positions by royal decree.
The website described the arrestees as “soldiers and officers of the Saudi army as well as members of the Ministry of Interior.”
The sources confirmed that the arrest campaign was in line with bin Salman’s “obsession” with Nayef’s influence.
Saudi Leaks also scoffed at the alleged reason for the purge, saying the kingdom actually spares the very royals, who are engaged in rampant graft.
The kingdom changelessly offers the claim when conducting the arrest campaigns, while its inaction towards the issue of corruption has actually made it rank first among the Persian Gulf’s littoral states in terms of corrupt practices, it added.
The aftermath of bin Salman’s ascension to the role of the country’s almost most powerful figure or “de facto ruler” was followed by numerous atrocities, including repeated arrest sprees related to the royal’s fears of a pending coup.
The first major such campaign came in 2017, when about 350 members of the ruling elite were arrested.
They were imprisoned at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the Saudi capital. Most were released after some 15 weeks, but after paying whopping sums of money.
The suppression drive comes amid huge criticism from inside and outside the royal family of bin Salman’s policies, including the 2015-present war on Yemen and the 2018 assassination and dismemberment of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.