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Saudi King Salman fires director of public security, refers him for investigation

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)
Former Director of Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Public Security, First Lieutenant General Khaled al-Harbi (Photo via Twitter)

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has removed the director of the kingdom’s General Directorate of Public Security from his position over corruption charges.

First Lieutenant General Khaled al-Harbi’s services have been terminated and he will be retired and referred for investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, known as “Nazaha”, according to an official royal decree issued on Tuesday.

The decree, published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA), said Harbi had been “taking public funds for his personal benefit.”

He was also “accused of committing several crimes, including forgery, bribery and abuse of power, along with 18 private and public sector employees.”

Nazaha will complete the investigation procedures and take necessary legal measures against all those involved in the graft case, the report said.

Harbi was appointed as the director of Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Public Security in December 2018.

Last month, Saudi Arabia announced the arrest of 207 employees across about a dozen government ministries on allegations of corruption, abuse of authority and fraud.

Nazaha announced the arrests on August 9. Those detained were not named and it was unclear when the arrests were made.

In April, Saudi Arabia announced that 176 people from across the country’s public sector had been detained on corruption charges.

Mohammed bin Salman, who became the Saudi crown prince in June 2017, has taken extreme measures to secure his power and to sideline all his potential political rivals within and outside the royal family.

There have been at least five major purges and one mass execution in the kingdom since the prince rose to power. He has ordered the arrest of top Muslim scholars, businessmen and royals, a witch-hunt against women activists and human rights lawyers, and the axing of top regime officials.

The goal has been to completely transform the Saudi political system into a more centralized system in which power is wholly and exclusively concentrated in bin Salman’s hands.

The series of purges began in November 2017, five months after bin Salman assumed power, targeting more than 300 Saudi princes, public figures and businessmen.

Saudi police, on the orders of bin Salman, arrested the country’s most influential figures — 11 princes — and held them incommunicado at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh for months.

While the arbitrary arrests were advertised as part of an anti-corruption drive, observers said the real motive was to sideline and silence potential rivals to bolster his own power.

The kingdom never released the names of those detained, but they included billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and Saudi construction tycoon Bakr bin Laden.

Last year, two more high-profile regime figures were fired from their positions and referred to trial.

They included Lieutenant General Fahad bin Turki bin Abdulaziz, a prince who oversaw the Saudi war in Yemen, and his son Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahad bin Turki, who was deputy governor in the Jawf region.

Salman’s brother Prince Ahmad and his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef are already in detention, targeted in previous purges.

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