A Saudi 'Night of the Long Knives'? Prince Salman's crackdown

angelburst29

The Living Force
Palaces are among the first contracts awarded for NEOM, a massive investment project northwest of the country.

Saudi Arabia to build five royal palaces in 'city of future' Friday 9 February 2018
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-build-five-castles-royals-proposed-business-zone-827858716

The Saudi government has begun to award contracts for the development of a huge business zone in the northwest of the country, asking local construction companies to build five palaces for members of the royal family there, sources close to the matter told Reuters.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans for the 26,500sq km zone, known as NEOM and dubbed a city of the future, at an international investment conference in Riyadh last October. Officials said public and private investment in the area was eventually expected to total $500bn.

The palaces for the king, crown prince and other senior royals, to be located on the Red Sea coast about 150 km west of the city of Tabuk, are among the first contracts awarded for NEOM, said the sources who declined to be identified as an official announcement has not yet been made.

Saudi Binladin Group, the country's biggest construction firm, has been mandated to build one of the palaces in a sign that it retains the government's support despite the recent detention of some of its owners in a supposed crackdown on corruption, the sources said.

Binladin chairman Bakr Bin Laden and several family members were held alongside scores of princes, senior officials and businessmen in the purge, announced in November.

Last month, Binladin said some owners of the firm might transfer part of their stakes to the state in a financial settlement of allegations against them, and most or all of the family members have now been released.

MEE reported in November that Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who was arrested in the purge and released last month, had refused to invest in NEOM before his detention.

Banks have started offering financing facilities to builders of the palaces, one source said. The sources said they could not confirm the cost of the buildings.

A project design document seen by Reuters showed opulent buildings with modern and traditional Moroccan-style architecture featuring Islamic designs and colourful ceramic tiles. The complex of palaces will include helipads, a marina and a golf course.

NEOM, with its own judicial system and legislation designed to attract international investors, is to focus on industries such as energy and water, biotechnology, food, advanced manufacturing and tourism, according to officials.

Some companies, including Japan's Softbank, have said they are prepared to invest in NEOM, but major, concrete business investments have not yet been announced.

However, some have criticised the project as wasteful and ineffective in addressing the problems of the Saudi economy, including unemployment and dependence on oil.

The palaces add to the list of lavish spending by bin Salman, which his opponents say discredits his claims that he is fighting corruption.

In 2015, the crown prince reportedly bought a $300m yacht, and last year he paid more than $400m for a Leonardo da Vinci painting.


Saudi Arabia has decided to acquire 60 per cent of MBC Group’s shares, a few days after the group’s founder and chairman of its Board of Directors Waleed Al Ibrahim was released.

Sources: Saudi Arabia government now owns 60% of MBC February 9, 2018
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180209-sources-saudi-arabia-now-owns-60-of-mbc/

Sources stated that Saudi officials will transfer 60 percent of the group’s ownership to the state and leave the remaining percentage to Al Ibrahim,
according to Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

This action is part of Saudi Arabia’s recent moves to seize assets of businessmen who have been involved in the corruption investigations, and have been held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel since November, 2017.

Waleed Al Ibrahim and his three brothers Khalid, Majid and Abdul Aziz were among the detainees at the Ritz-Carlton, and were released in late January.

Extortion - On January 26, the Financial Times newspaper revealed that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, has been extorting the owner of MBC media group, Waleed Al Ibrahim, to give up his share in the group in exchange for releasing him.

On the 29th of the same month, a senior official in the media group confirmed that Waleed Al Ibrahim would retain his share of it at 40%. He pointed out that Al Ibrahim renewed the allegiance to the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters.

However, estimations confirm that members of Al Ibrahim family owned 50% of the group, while Saleh Kamel, the businessman who was also arrested during the campaign on corruption, owns 10%.

Officials said dozens of suspects had agreed to waive assets worth more than $ 100 billion to the state through financial settlements to the charges against them.

When Waleed Al Ibrahim was released, a senior executive at MBC said the investigations proved his innocence of any wrongdoings.

The scenario - In its January 26 report, the Financial Times reported what it said was a scenario for what happened between Mohammad bin Salman and the head of the group, Waleed Al Ibrahim. It stressed that “Bin Salman has long been interested in MBC.

The newspaper added that people close to the crown prince have held discussions with Al Ibrahim to take over his share for almost two years. However, the group’s owner objected to the amount they offered him ($ 2.5 billion), and insisted on a higher price ($ 3/3.5 billion).

The newspaper stated that “Al Ibrahim boarded his jet to Riyadh, days before the start of the arrest campaign, following the invitation of Mohammad bin Salman, to complete the talks on the acquisition deal.”

It continued: “When the meeting was canceled, Al Ibrahim decided to return back to Dubai, where the headquarters of his media group is located, but officials at Riyadh airport told him the flight has been cancelled and stopped his plane.”

It went on by saying: “On the evening of the same day, the name of Al Ibrahim was spread on social media websites; the Saudis speculated that he was one of the detainees on charges of corruption. In the morning of the following day, his meeting with Mohammad bin Salman was reaffirmed. He was rather arrested instead of discussing the acquisition deal.”

Observers considered that MBC was a clear goal for the young Saudi crown prince, who seeks to “ensure positive media coverage of his ambitious plans.” They pointed out that the rise of bin Salman to power was accompanied by further restrictions on media outlets in the country and less tolerance against the opponents, according to the Financial Times.

About two weeks ago, Saudi blogger Mujtahidd revealed that MBC would be part of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group owned by Bin Salman.

At the end of December, 2017, Al-Quds Al-Arabi quoted sources as saying that MBC and Saudi Arabian channel Al Arabiya had become fully managed by Saudi journalist Turki Aldakhil and his assistant, Nasser bin Hazzam, who both work under Bin Salman.

Previous deal - The news came following the announcement of 6.6 billion Saudi riyals ($ 1.8 billion) deal between Saudi Telecom Company and the General Sport Authority, under which the company will be granted exclusive rights to broadcast Saudi football matches for 10 years.

Broadcasting rights were owned by MBC, which signed in July 2014 a 4.1 billion-riyal deal to own them for 10 years.

One of the exporters said the broadcasting rights of matches have been granted – without bidding – to the Saudi Telecom Company 70 per cent of which is owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.


A prominent Saudi columnist has been jailed for five years for criticising the country’s Royal Courts, the official body that represents the king and crown prince.

Prominent Saudi columnist jailed for accusing Royal Court of corruption February 9, 2018
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180209-prominent-saudi-columnist-jailed-for-accusing-royal-court-of-corruption/

State-linked Saudi newspaper, Okaz, reported yesterday that a specialised criminal court had sentenced Saleh Al-Shehi for “insulting the royal court”.

Al-Shehi, who is a columnist for Arabic-language daily Al-Watan was awaiting the courts verdict following his arrest in January over comments he had made on TV. The arrest was heavily criticised by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) who demanded his release.

Saudi royals appear to have been deeply offended by Al-Shehi’s comments over Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s “anti –corruption” clampdown. The popular commentator with nearly 1.2 million followers on Twitter, had accused the Royal Court of being “one of the institutions that reinforced corruption” in the country, citing examples such as granting plots of land to citizens based on personal connections.

According to the Financial Times, Al-Shehi had said “if we want to end financial corruption then we must first shutter the windows for administrative corruption.” He went on to say that “there are in the Royal Court many windows from which people can enter.”

Al-Shehi was implying that any Saudi citizen who has a contact within the Royal Court automatically has an advantage in buying strategically located land unavailable to the public.

The CPJ who previously demanded Al-Shehi’s release denounced the verdict. “The emerging leadership’s promises of openness and reform in Saudi Arabia seem to end where critical reporting and independent journalism begin,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour, in Washington, D.C. “Saudi authorities should free Saleh Al-Shehi immediately and stop going after journalists who report inconvenient news.”

The campaigner for press freedom worldwide also reported that Saudi authorities were holding at least seven journalists behind bars as of 1 December 2017.

Saudi Arabia ranks 168 out of 180 countries for free expression, according to the 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Prince Mohammed bin Salman's two-day visit to Cairo comes ahead of a scheduled trip to Britain and then the US.

Saudi crown prince sets off on maiden foreign tour Saturday 3 March 2018
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-crown-prince-sets-maiden-foreign-tour-854474477

Saudi Arabia's crown prince lands in Egypt on Sunday on the first leg of his maiden foreign tour as heir to the throne, a diplomatic charm offensive that follows his stunning rise to power.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman's two-day visit to Cairo comes ahead of a scheduled trip to Britain on Wednesday for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May and the United States from 19 to 22 March.

The trips are aimed partly at courting investors and come after a tumultuous period that saw a major military shake-up and a royal purge, part of the prince's sweeping power play that has shaken business confidence.

The son of Saudi King Salman is already seen as the country's de facto ruler controlling the major levers of government.

His visit to Cairo, a key regional ally, comes before Egypt's presidential polls in late March, with incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi expected to win a second four-year term.

"Prince Mohammed's visit will be interpreted as proof of Saudi support for Sisi to remain as the president of Egypt in the coming term," Mostafa Kamel al-Sayed, a political science professor at Cairo University, told AFP.

Egypt is part of a Saudi-led military coalition which intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to fight Iran-backed Houthi rebels, a conflict that the United Nations says has engendered the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also part of a bloc of nations that has boycotted Qatar since June over alleged ties to Islamic extremists and Iran. Qatar denies the accusations.

A Saudi government source said Prince Mohammed's choice of Egypt for his maiden overseas trip as crown prince "reaffirms Saudi-Egyptian cooperation at the highest level".

Talks would cover regional rival Iran, the conflict in Yemen, counter-terrorism and energy cooperation, the source said.

The crown prince is also expected to visit France in the coming weeks.

'Uncertainty and turbulence'

The diplomatic offensive comes as Prince Mohammed, a self-styled moderniser who has sought to project a liberal image of Saudi Arabia to investors, consolidates power to a level unseen by previous rulers.

A dramatic shake-up announced on Monday saw military top brass, including the chief of staff and heads of the ground forces and air defence, replaced.

Prince Mohammed's reshuffle came after he sidelined political rivals to become heir to the throne last June and orchestrated a royal anti-corruption purge in November that saw princes, ministers and tycoons locked up in Riyadh's luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel for nearly three months.

"His first trip as crown prince is symbolically a moment for the young Saudi ruler to try to put Riyadh's best foot forward on the world stage," Andrew Bowen, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told AFP.

"It comes at a time of uncertainty and turbulence at home and he has an upward task of both selling to the business community that Saudi is a stable and safe place to do business and that he has a steady hand on foreign policy despite Qatar and Yemen. This certainly won't be an easy sell."

The British government said Prince Mohammed's visit will help enhance cooperation in tackling challenges such as "terrorism, extremism, the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen".

But some protests are expected during his visit over the West supplying Saudi Arabia with arms despite the kingdom's role in the crisis gripping Yemen, said Mohamed Abdelmeguid, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

'Competitive rivalry'

The crown prince's visit to the United States in late March, which a Saudi government source said could include multiple cities, would highlight the Trump administration's efforts to sign a nuclear cooperation accord with Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh is expected to announce this year who will build the first two of up to 16 reactors, and negotiations are under way with the United States for its agreement to export technology needed for their construction.

Besides the US company Westinghouse, Russian, French, Chinese and South Korean firms have all been seeking the Saudi contracts.

Another key focus could be the Aramco initial public offering.

The kingdom is preparing to sell under five percent of its state-owned oil giant, the crown jewel of the Saudi economy, in what is expected to be the world's largest ever initial public offering (IPO) of shares.

"Prince Mohammed may seek to foster a competitive rivalry between a UK government desperate to attract Saudi investment to offset the Brexit chaos and his US hosts, particularly over the Aramco IPO," said Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in the United States.

US President Donald Trump hosted Prince Mohammed in March 2017, just weeks after taking office, and he chose Saudi Arabia for his first official overseas visit as president.

Saudi Arabia has grown close to its longtime ally Washington under Trump, whose harder line on Iran and softer stance on arms sales are a welcome shift in policy for Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia viewed Trump's predecessor president Barack Obama as too accommodating towards Iran, particularly on negotiating a 2015 nuclear deal.


Mohammed bin Salman is seeking up to $100bn of investment while in the UK. Critics say his actions at home continue to harm his reputation.

'Disappeared': Saudi business chiefs languish in jail as MBS chases UK deals Wednesday 7 March 2018
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-business-custody-purge-corruption-mbs-london-1109453969

Saudi Arabia's concerted push to improve its international image is being stained by the alleged torture and ongoing imprisonment of businessmen on opaque corruption allegations, their supporters and commentators say.

As the powerful crown prince flies into London to attract foreign investors and push his vision of social reform, more than 50 of the hundreds of tycoons, royals and government advisers rounded up in November remain in prisons around the country.

But information on who they are and why they remain locked up has been suppressed, even as property seized as part of the campaign is being sold to meet national budget targets and beat a projected $52bn deficit.

As Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, visits London on a three-day tour to meet political and business leaders and chase deals that could be worth as much as $100bn, details are emerging about those still detained.

They include a former economic minister who was bin Salman's point man for key reforms up until the November purge, a businessman lauded for making the kingdom more competitive, and a chief executive of a start-up company bought by global consultancy giant McKinsey & Company last year.

The nature and extent of their alleged corruption has not been disclosed by the Saudi authorities - making it impossible for any outside groups or media organisations to fully investigate the circumstances. But their continued detention should raise questions for potential investors, say their supporters.

Ray Romestant, who worked as the key aide to one of the men for nearly a decade, told MEE: "What seems strange is how the business community of either the USA or UK would feel any confidence in a country in which the business community - including some of its most successful and admired leaders - is taken hostage in a process that lacks any transparency and yet purports to be about eliminating corruption."

'Everyday, a new initiative'

One of the remaining prisoners is Amr Dabbagh, the chairman and chief executive of al-Dabbagh Group, the Jeddah-based conglomerate started in 1962 by his father. The company employs 13,000 people around the world.

As the head of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) for eight years, Dabbagh was before his arrest credited with overseeing work that moved Saudi Arabis from 64th to 11th on the World Bank's list of most business-competitive nations in 2010.

The developments he achieved at SAGIA were described as "remarkable" in a 2010 US diplomatic cable that called for greater US investment in the kingdom.

Romestant, who was Dabbagh's right-hand man for nine years, said: "Everybody loved Amr. He was smart. Having a meeting with him was like having a meeting with a Stanford MBA textbook."

After leading SAGIA, Dabbagh led his family's business, but was also involved in a long list of entrepreneurial and charitable initiatives - until November.

"Every day, he had a new initiative. Boom, boom, boom and then all of a sudden, he disappears," Romestant said.

On 4 November, Romestant said, Dabbagh was summoned from Jeddah to the Ritz Carlton, the luxury Riyadh hotel turned into a makeshift prison for hundreds of Saudis accused of corruption by the state, and has been in custody ever since. "His plane is probably parked on the tarmac," he said.

A separate Saudi source has told MEE that Dabbagh has been tortured and agreed to surrender his assets in order to go home, but continues to be held.

Dabbagh is known to have close relations with Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, the son of late King Abdullah, who fled the kingdom for Paris late last year ahead of the purge.

Ousted minister and start-up CEO

In addition to Dabbagh, Adel Fakeih, the kingdom's ousted economy minister, and Hani Khoja, whose Saudi-based consultancy, Elixir, which McKinsey & Company bought last April, also remain in custody, according to well-informed Saudi sources.

A former food industry executive and the mayor of Jeddah, Fakeih ruffled feathers in the kingdom's business community as minister of labour when he put a quota on the number of foreign workers that companies could hire in order to increase jobs for Saudis.

Fakeih was one of very few ministers from the Jeddah business community, considered to be more established as compared to the more recently enriched circles of Riyadh, and was noted among consultants advising the kingdom for his competence.

In 2015, he was appointed as minister of economy and, by the following year, had become the go-to man for major reforms to the economy, reporting directly to MBS. He continued in this role up until his detention in November.

While Fakeih served in the government, Khoja is a self-made business consultant - and author of a self-help book, A Global Nomad in Search of True Happiness.

According to an interview he gave last July, he left Proctor & Gamble in 2005 to start up Elixir, the consultancy that grew to 140 employees before McKinsey purchased it, but continued to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary.

After the acquisition, Khoja said he planned to "continue as CEO of Elixir and help it expand within Saudi Arabia to serve Vision 2030".

Incommunicado and uncertainty

Last week, MBS said that those who had been freed "know they have made big mistakes and they have settled". Why Dabbagh, Fakeih and Khoja are still in custody remains unclear.

Carool Kersten, a senior lecturer in the study of Islam and the Muslim world at King's College London, said one reason certain individuals may continue to be held is that they are perceived to be too independent. "Or they have indeed done certain things - thus having egg on their face and MBS knows about it," he said.

In addition to the reshuffle of the Saudi military last week, MBS also appointed several of his cousins to leadership positions in several key provinces and even a few in his royal diwan. Kersten said this could be a sign that he is attempting to mend fences with his family, while non-royals like the trio are still fair game.

But MEE understands that as recently as late January, royals living in exile abroad - including some whose family members were in custody as part of the purge - were receiving offers to return home in exchange for portions of their assets.

Kersten, who spent 10 years working in Saudi Arabia before becoming an academic, said the lack of transparency around the campaign is a way to create leverage.

"They keep people incommunicado and create uncertainties. They often don’t have to lay a finger on people," he said.

"White collar crime and political activities that are not leading to immediate revolutions, the regime can play it differently - with velvet gloves."

The Saudi embassy in London did not respond to requests for comment.


LONDON: Britain has signed a multi-billion-pound preliminary order with Saudi Arabia for 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets, military equipment maker BAE Systems said on Friday.

Typhoon jet agreement, strategic partnership wrap up Saudi crown prince’s visit to UK Saturday 10 March 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1262826/saudi-arabia

The joint statement issued at the end of the three-day visit, and published by the Saudi Press agency, indicated that both parties signed a letter of intent to supply Saudi Arabia with 48 new Typhoon fighter jets.

BAE Systems added in a statement sent to Arab News that the order would help Riyadh modernize its armed forces under the Kingdom’s ‘Vision 2030’ economic plan, while no financial details were given.

If confirmed the order will raise Saudi capabilities in the air and add 48 to the already 72 Typhoons in service with the Royal Saudi Airforce.

“The crown prince’s visit has opened a new chapter in our two countries’ historic relationship,” British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said. “We have taken a vital step toward finalizing another order for Typhoon jets that will increase security in the Middle East and boost British industry and jobs in our unrivalled aerospace sector,” he said.

The defense secretary was speaking after meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the third day of his visit. The two sides met at Northolt Air Base in north west London.

Upon arrival, Typhoon aircrafts soared in the skies to welcome the crown prince, who is also deputy prime minister and minister of defense. Both national anthems were played and then they reviewed the Honor Guards’ Salute.

During the meeting, the pair discussed ways to develop bilateral relations and areas of strategic cooperation between the two countries, especially in the defense and military sectors.

They also discussed the wide-ranging opportunities in Saudi Arabia following the introduction of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, as well as international and regional developments and efforts to combat terrorism and extremism.

Prior to his departure, the UK and Saudi Arabia published a joint communique summarizing the agreements, understandings, and memorandum signed in the military, defense, economic, social and cultural sectors.

Mainly the statement stressed that the two Kingdoms are strategic partners in seeing through Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Vision 2030. The two sides committed to launching an annual strategic partnership council and dialogue between the two countries.

“The crown prince’s visit has opened a new chapter in our two countries’ historic relationship,” Williamson said.


Magazine says it can no longer reliably estimate the fortunes of Saudi billionaires due to government seizure of assets in corruption probe.

Saudi tycoons excluded from Forbes rich list due to corruption purge Thursday 8 March 2018
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-tycoons-excluded-forbes-richlist-due-corruption-purge-1537906435

Forbes magazine has excluded all Saudi Arabian tycoons from its annual list of the world's richest people after dozens were arrested in the state crackdown on corruption last year.

Most of those arrested were released after reaching settlements with the authorities, who say they arranged to seize more than $100bn in assets through such deals.

But the government has provided few details about those netted in the sweep, what they were accused of and how much they gave up.

Forbes said earlier in the week that it was "impossible to know definitively who gave how much to whom when".

As a consequence, the magazine said it had removed the 10 Saudi billionaires who made the cut last year, including Alwaleed bin Talal, whose wealth was previously valued at $18.7bn, and Mohammed al-Amoudi, who was said to have a $8.1bn personal fortune. This left Nassef Sawiris, of the Sawaris family dynasty, ranked as the richest man in the Middle East with a personal fortune of $6.6bn. Four of his family members are also ranked on the billionaires list.

"With greater clarity regarding their wealth, some might eventually return to the ranking," Forbes said.

The magazine's Middle East edition said in a separate statement on Thursday that the wealth of Saudi billionaires was believed to have increased from $42.1bn last year due to the rise in oil prices and capital markets globally, but would be excluded due to the reported asset seizures.

Alwaleed, who told Reuters in an interview hours before his release in January that he did not expect to give up any assets to the government, sued Forbes in 2013 alleging the magazine had undervalued his wealth.

The magazine listed 2,208 billionaires worldwide in 2018, up from 2,043 in 2017.


LONDON: In a packed schedule, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met political and religious leaders yesterday on the second full day of his landmark visit to Britain.

Saudi crown prince meets with MPs and religious leaders Thursday 8 March 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1261961/saudi-arabia

Following on from his first day, in which he had lunch with Queen Elizabeth II and met with Prime Minister Theresa May, the crown prince met with MPs and ministers as business leaders gathered from the two countries in the capital.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion of millions of Christians globally, received the crown prince at Lambeth Palace in central London, where the two talked for an hour.

“The crown prince made a strong commitment to promote the flourishing of those of different faith traditions, and to interfaith dialogue within the Kingdom and beyond,” a statement from Lambeth Palace said.
He also extended an invitation to the Archbishop to visit Saudi Arabia, senior sources at both the Saudi Embassy in the United Kingdom and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Arab News.

Earlier this week, Crown Prince Mohammed met Coptic Pope Tawadros II at Cairo’s largest cathedral, and invited Egypt’s Christians to visit Saudi Arabia.

He has said in interviews that he wants to return Saudi Arabia to “moderate Islam” that is open to the world and tolerant of other faiths.

Crown Prince Mohammed and the Archbishop viewed a selection of early texts from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths, including fragments of a Qur’an manuscript found in a Birmingham University library in 2015, which are thought to be among the world’s oldest, Reuters reported.

“The Archbishop shared his concern about limits placed on Christian worship in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and highlighted the importance for leaders of all faiths to support freedom of religion or belief, drawing on the experience of the UK,” the statement said.

Welby also “voiced his distress” at the humanitarian situation in Yemen, where Iran-backed Houthi militias overthrew the internationally recognized government in 2014 sparking the conflict. Saudi Arabia leads an Arab coalition supporting forces loyal to the president against the militias and their allies.

On Wednesday night, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “Iran is playing a destructive and dangerous role in Yemen and destabilizing the region.”

Speaking at a news conference with the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir he said there had been “a British-Saudi agreement to control shipping lines in preparation for the opening of Yemeni ports.”

Al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia agreed with Britain “on the need to deter Iran and stop its support for terrorism.” “We support the transitional process and the political dialogue in Yemen,” he added, stressing that “the war there was imposed on us.”

He pointed out that “the Houthis have rebuffed all attempts to reach a political solution in Yemen.”

The Saudi foreign minister affirmed the Kingdom’s continued humanitarian assistance to Yemen after the war.

Yesterday, the crown prince also met with Philip Hammond the treasury secretary and they discussed ways to improve economic cooperation between the two countries as well as opportunities that may arise from the implementation of the Vision 2030 plan to move the Saudi economy away from oil.

He also held talks with MPs from all parties and the heads of parliamentary committees for the armed forces, foreign affairs and intelligence.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Shares of Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding, an international investment company controlled by Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, soared in January when he was freed after two months of being held captive at a Ritz Carlton in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, long a favorite in tech circles, is reportedly still under armed guard 03.13.2018
https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/13/prince-alwaleed-bin-talal-long-a-favorite-in-tech-circles-is-reportedly-still-under-armed-guard/

Turns out investors may have celebrated too soon.

As people following the story may recall, Prince Alwaleed was arrested in early November with hundreds of other businessmen and at least 10 other princes. The roundup was described as a sweeping corruption investigation but widely seen as an effort to consolidate power by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a son and the top adviser of King Salman, who succeeded his half brother and became king of Saudi Arabia in January 2015. Indeed, the crown prince had announced the creation of a new anti-corruption committee — which he headed up — just hours before the arrests were ordered.

New reports suggest that though most of those who were arrested have now been released, they are not in control of the holdings they once were, including Prince Alwaleed. A detailed weekend report by the New York Times, for example, states that “members of the royal family, and relatives, advisers and associates of the detainees” say those who were kidnapped were coerced and physically abused in some cases, and that billions of dollars in private wealth were transferred to Crown Prince’s Mohammed’s control.

Two associates of Prince Alwaleed also told the Times that he continues to live under armed guard and that his time at the Ritz is “something he wants to forget.”

That won’t be easy, according to a separate report in the WSJ yesterday that said the Saudi government now has final say over decisions at Kingdom Holding and that, further, the prince’s personal investment portfolio is also under government control.

Prince Alwaleed — who long maintained a high profile, even pledging in 2015 to give away $32 billion as part of investor Warren Buffett’s famous Giving Pledge — has also reportedly agreed to step back from his informal role as a broker for foreign businesses and governments looking to invest in Saudi Arabia, says the WSJ.

Before being ushered out of view in November, the prince was considered to be one of the world’s richest men, with Kingdom Holding owning or having owned meaningful positions in satellite TV networks, as well as in News Corp. (a stake it mostly sold), Citigroup (shares of which it has owned since 1991), and a growing number of tech companies.

The prince and Kingdom Holding — of which he was believed to own 95 percent — first invested $300 million in Twitter in 2011, two years before the company went public. In 2015, he invested another $50 million to increase his ownership in Twitter and, as of 2016, remained one of the company’s largest shareholders.

In 2013, Kingdom also acquired 2.5 percent of China-based retailer JD.Com, which went public on the Nasdaq the following year and whose shares have more than doubled since.

Prince Alwaleed and Kingdom further acquired a stake in the car-hailing company Lyft i in early 2016, buying some of the shares of its earlier investors Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund.

What happens to Kingdom’s stakes in these companies now is an open question. It’s far from the only one, either.

For example, an investor conference in Riyadh last October that was organized by Crown Prince Mohammed and attended by several thousand people — including billionaire investor Peter Thiel, Blackstone Group cofounder Stephen Schwarzman, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, and United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — was designed to showcase Saudi Arabia’s growing influence in the business world.

Yet a newly delayed initial public offering of the world’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, has some wondering who, exactly, is in charge. Crown Prince Mohammed has been pushing Saudi Arabia to sell 5 percent of Saudi Aramco as part of a broader economic reform program. He also reportedly wants to list its shares in New York, as well as on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul exchange.

But according to a weekend report in the The Financial Times, those assessing the company are struggling to arrive at the $2 trillion valuation sought by the crown prince. Further, senior Saudi ministers and Saudi Aramco executives have said privately that London might be a better fit than New York, says the FT’s report, which suggests the offering, once expected this year, could now be delayed until 2019.


US President Donald Trump will host Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on March 20, the White House said on Monday.

Saudi Crown Prince to meet Trump at White House on March 20 Monday 12 March 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1264801/saudi-arabia

"The president looks forward to discussing ways to strengthen ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia," spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in announcing the meeting.

Saudi Arabia's crown prince's visit to Washington is part of a three-leg visit, with Mohammed bin Salman having visited Egypt and the UK earlier in March as part of a long foreign trip, his first as crown prince.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Saudi Prince Bandar bin Khalid dies Tuesday 13 March 2018
http://gulfbusiness.com/saudi-prince-bandar-bin-khalid-dies/

Saudi Prince Bandar bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud passed away on Monday, March 12, the Royal Court announced in a statement.

His funeral prayers will be performed at the Grand Mosque in Makkah following Asr (afternoon) regular prayer on Tuesday, March 13, the official Saudi News Agency (SPA) reported.

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent a cable of condolences to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Prince Bandar bin Khalid’s death, official news agency WAM reported.

Similar cables were also dispatched by the UAE’s Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.


The royal family member passed away on Monday, March 12

Saudi royals gather after death of Prince Bandar bin Khalid (Photos) Sunday 18 March 2018
http://gulfbusiness.com/saudi-royals-gather-death-prince-bandar-bin-khalid/

Saudi Prince Jalawi bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed has received condolences at his home in Riyadh following the death of Saudi Prince Bandar bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

The royal family member passed away on Monday, March 12, the Royal Court announced last week.

State-run Saudi Press Agency posted images of the gathering at Prince Jalawi’s home on Saturday, showing dozens of royal family members offering their condolences.

These included Prince Turki Al Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Prince Khalid Bin Bandar, Prince Badr bin Fahad bin Saad, Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Thunayan, Prince Khalid bin Turki bin Abdulaziz and minister of the national guard Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Ayyaf al-Muqrin, according to SPA.

Prince Saud bin Salman bin Mohammed, Prince Nahar bin Saud bin Abdulaziz, Prince Yusif bin Saud bin Abdulaziz, Prince Bandar bin Salman bin Mohammed, deputy Riyadh region governor Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman bin Abdulaziz, deputy Najran region governor Prince Turki Bin Hathloul bin Abdul Aziz and deputy Hail region governor Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz also attended alongside other princes and officials.

“All expressed their sincere condolences and asking the Lord to heal the deceased with mercy and forgiveness, and to inspire his family with patience and solace,” according to SPA.


Saudi Prince Bandar bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud reportedly committed suicide at London airport on Monday, March 12 while British forces were trying to depart him.

Top Saudi prince commits suicide at London airport while British forces trying to depart him Wednesday, 14 March 2018
http://www.shiitenews.org/index.php/saudi-arab/item/33496-top-saudi-prince-commits-suicide-at-london-airport-while-british-forces-trying-to-depart-him

The media has reported that a Saudi prince called Bandar bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has committed suicide at London international airport.

The prince's motive for suicide has been announced to be British officials' efforts to depart him from the UK.

A footage of the incident has been circulating in the virtual space showing the Saudi prince jumping off a balcony.

The Royal Court of Saudi Arabia announced the news in a statement without providing further details.


Apologies - if I'm mistaken but I believe the Prince Bandar referred to (in above articles) is the same entity described in this dated Zero Hedge report?

Saudi "Deep State" Prince Bandar Among Those Arrested In Purge: Report Sat, 11/11/2017
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-10/saudi-deep-state-prince-bandar-bin-sultan-among-those-arrested-purge-report

According to a new report by Middle East Eye, Prince Bandar bin Sultan - Saudi Arabia's most famous arms dealer, longtime former ambassador to the US, and recent head of Saudi intelligence - was among those detained as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's (MBS) so-called "corruption purge" that started with the initial arrests of up to a dozen princes and other top officials last weekend.

If confirmed, the arrest and detention of Bandar would constitute the most significant and high profile figure caught up in the purge - even above that of high profile billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal - given Bandar's closeness to multiple US administrations and involvement in events ranging from Reagan's Nicaraguan Contra program (including direct involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal), to making the case for the Iraq War as a trusted friend of Bush and Cheney, to directing US-Saudi covert operations overseeing the arming of jihadists in Syria.

Middle East Eye issued the report based on multiple contacts "inside the royal court" and indicates further that the scale of MBS' aggressive crackdown is much larger than previously reported, and even involves the torture of "senior figures" among those detained:

Some senior figures detained in last Saturday's purge in Saudi Arabia were beaten and tortured so badly during their arrest or subsequent interrogations that they required hospital treatment, Middle East Eye can reveal. People inside the royal court also told MEE that the scale of the crackdown, which has brought new arrests each day, is much bigger than Saudi authorities have admitted, with more than 500 people detained and double that number questioned.

And shockingly, those sources say that the longtime Saudi 'deep state' power broker and liaison with the West, Prince Bandar, is among the detained:

One of the most famous is Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former Saudi ambassador to Washington and confidant of former US President George W Bush. There is no word on his fate, but Saudi authorities said that one of the corruption cases they are looking at is the al-Yamamah arms deal, in which Bandar was involved.

While no doubt Bandar's very well-known role in Saudi "oil for arms" programs which have come to define Saudi relations with the West over the past decades is a trumped up and "selective" charge (insofar as the highest levels of the state have overseen such shady dealing) the al-Yamamah deal in particular - which goes back to the mid-1980's - has been an historical embarrassment to both the UK and Saudi governments (BAE Systems was the prime British contractor involved) for the astounding level of fraudulent accounting exposed in UK courts.

Concerning Prince Bandar's role in the al-Yamamah deal, Middle East Eye continues:

Bandar bought an entire village in the Cotswolds, a picturesque area of central England, and a 2,000-acre sporting estate with part of the proceeds from kickbacks he received in the al-Yamamah arms deal, which netted British manufacturer BAE £43bn ($56.5bn) in contracts for fighter aircraft.

As much as $30m (£15m) is alleged to have been paid into Bandar’s dollar account at Riggs Bank in Washington and the affair led to corruption probes in the US and UK, although the case was dropped in the UK in 2006 after an intervention by then-prime minister Tony Blair.

But more likely is that Bandar has been caught up in this week's MBS dragnet for his closeness to Western heads of state and foreign intelligence services. With MBS' aggressive consolidation of power which could result in ascension to the throne at any moment, and with fate of multiple princes and officials still unknown - not the least of which is now ex-PM of Lebanon Saad Hariri - a shroud of secrecy has resulted in myriad theories concerning what is really happening behind the scenes.

Likely, Bandar has been detained to ensure a communications blackout with Western intelligence and media until MBS' plans are complete, with the added benefit of ensuring the "anti-corruption" angle to the purges for the consumption of international media.

Bandar (left) has been close to multiple US administrations spanning decades
with direct involvement in events ranging from Reagan's Nicaraguan Contra program (including being named in the Iran-Contra scandal), to making the case for the Iraq War as a trusted friend of Bush and Cheney, to directing Obama-era covert operations to arm jihadists in Syria.

Ironically, Bandar himself once seemed to publicly boast about receiving massive kickbacks in relation to Saudi weapons dealing, which perhaps further made him an easy and high profile target in this week's crackdown. According to a royal family profile highlighting corruption in the New York Times from early this week:

Perhaps the most famous statement on corruption in Saudi Arabia was made by Prince Bandar. In an interview with PBS in 2001, he said: “If you tell me that building this whole country, and spending $350 billion out of $400 billion, that we had misused or got corrupted with $50 billion, I’ll tell you, yes. But I’ll take that anytime.”

And the New York Times summarized the key events of the multi-billion pound weapons deal with the UK as follows:

Weapons contracts have long been a source of wealth. British media reported that Prince Bandar received well over $1 billion in secret payments from BAE Systems, the leading British military contractor, over the course of a decade. The son of founding King Abdulaziz’s personal doctor, Adnan Khashoggi, became a billionaire as an arms dealer and go-between for weapons makers and members of the royal family.

Meanwhile news of Bandar's possible arrest and detention hasn't spread very widely in international media reports as of this writing, but it will be interesting to see the response in the West should the news be confirmed. Will Bandar's friends in Washington and London go to bat for him? Or will Prince Bandar quietly recede into the background of a permanent forced retirement from public life?

Most likely the latter will be the case. Regardless, for friends of the former powerful Saudi intelligence director on either side of the Atlantic and within Saudi Arabia itself, Bandar no doubt knows where all the skeletons are buried, and this alone makes him a worrisome, volatile and unpredictable figure in the midst of a transfer of power.


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will arrive in the US this week for high-level meetings with President Donald Trump. But before he visits the White House, the Saudi heir will introduce himself to the American public.

Exclusive: Norah O’Donnell on how CBS landed Saudi Crown Prince interview Sunday 18 March 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1268536/saudi-arabia

On Sunday, the CBS television network will air an interview with the crown prince on its flagship “60 Minutes” current affairs program, and for his first-ever interview with a US broadcaster, no subject was off limits. There were no time restrictions and no preconditions,” Norah O’Donnell, the CBS anchorwoman who interviewed the crown prince in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“It seemed to me that there was a desire to show the American public what he believes, to show that Saudi Arabia is changing. The crown prince wants the US audience to understand him.”
The interview is wide-ranging and remarkably candid, with topics including the war in Yemen and the anti-corruption investigation launched last year at the prince’s behest, which resulted in high-ranking businessmen and officials being detained.

“For the first time, the crown prince tells in his own words what happened at the Ritz-Carlton. He speaks forcefully about Iran and about the role of women in Saudi society. He also talks about how Islam has been misinterpreted by extremists, whether it has to do with women’s rights or education or larger cultural traditions,” said O’Donnell.

How CBS interview with Saudi crown prince set the tone for American tour Tuesday 20 March 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1269746/saudi-arabia
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
09.04.2018 - Saudi "Julian Assange" claims Crown Prince to Ascend to Throne by July
Saudi 'Julian Assange' Claims Crown Prince to Ascend to Throne by July

Saudi whistleblower Mujtahid, who is so well-informed that some believe he’s a member of the royal family, has once again used Twitter to reveal another portion of secrets about the kingdom.

Twitter has become a crucial platform for Mujtahid, dubbed the Saudi “Julian Assange,” who has over 2 million followers: the whistleblower has recently revealed, citing a source familiar with the matter, that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman might be preparing to take over the throne within three months.

“Circles close to Mohammed bin Salman have disclosed that he has coordinated with Trump and Jared Kushner to have King Salman step down from power to be succeeded by the Saudi Crown Prince by July 4 at most,” he tweeted in Arabic.

At the same time, he elaborated that the source did not explain why the prince had chosen July 4 as the deadline.

In 2015, BBC managed to contact Mujtahid: the anonymous whistleblower said that his mission was to expose injustice, corruption and hypocrisy, claiming that he had sources inside the royal family as well as in intelligence, military and even religious authorities. When asked whether he feared that his identity would be exposed, Mujtahid answered that he was “almost certain” that the authorities knew who he was.

"I'm not afraid. Not because I've taken precautions but because I'm almost certain that the government knows who I am. But they don't want to reveal my identity in fear of a scandal."

Speculation that the prince will ascend to the throne has circulated in media since his father became king in 2015, with Mohammed bin Salman being in the spotlight for his liberal views on the kingdom’s development. The prince has introduced unprecedented changes to Saudi society, having implemented a set of socio-economic reforms and granted women more rights and broader opportunities.

Salman’s foreign policy, however, is more aggressive: many have criticized his decision to strike Yemen and impose a blockade on rebel-held ports, thus hindering humanitarian aid deliveries. The heir to the throne has also sought to secure international support for his hardline stance toward Iran and neighboring Qatar.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Sun Apr 22, 2018 - URGENT: Heavy Gunfire Ongoing Around Saudi King's Palace
Farsnews

Heavy gunfire is ongoing near the Saudi King's palace in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, while King Salman has been taken to a bunker at an airbase in the city.

A growing number of videos are surfacing the media displaying that a heavy gunfire is underway around King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's palace in the capital, Riyadh.

Reports said the king and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have been evacuated to a bunker at an airbase in the city that is under the protection of the US troops.

While Saudi officials and media are quiet over the incident, there are contradicting reports over the incident. Witnesses and residents of the neighborhoods near the palace said a coup is underway, while other reports said a drone has been flying over the palace.

Saudi opposition members claimed that "a senior ground force officer has led a raid on the palace to kill the king and the crown prince".

Videos also show that a growing number of armored vehicles have deployed around the palace. 'Bin Salman's special guard' has taken charge of security in the capital. Riyadh's sky has been closed to all civil and military flights as military helicopters from 'Bin Salman's special guard' are flying over the palace.

There is yet no report on any possible casualties.

Yet, a number of Saudi activists said in their twitter accounts that a drone has been flying over the palace and the palace guards started spraying bullet at the UAV as they are afraid that it could be a Yemeni military aircraft sent on a bombing mission to the King's palace.

Yemen's Ansarullah movement recently warned that it would use more drones in the war against Saudi Arabia.

The first such drone mission happened few weeks ago when the Yemenis sent pilotless aircraft on a mission over the Saudi Aramco oil company in Southern Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh's Police spokesman confirmed the shooting incident minutes ago, claiming that the guards have observed a helishot flying over the Al-Khazami Palace and started shooting at it.
 

Windmill knight

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Sun Apr 22, 2018 - URGENT: Heavy Gunfire Ongoing Around Saudi King's Palace
Farsnews

Heavy gunfire is ongoing near the Saudi King's palace in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, while King Salman has been taken to a bunker at an airbase in the city.

There are some videos on RT of the shooting. You can't see anything, but there's certainly a lot of constant shooting going on. For a drone? What kind of drone was that then?

Drone triggers gunfire outside royal palace in Riyadh (VIDEOS)
 

Ruth

The Living Force

angelburst29

The Living Force
Sun Apr 22, 2018 - Whistle-Blower: Saudi Officials Behind Saturday Night Raid on Royal Palace
Farsnews

Saudi whistle-blower Mujtahid, who is believed to be a member of or have a well-connected source in the royal family, underlined involvement of a number of Saudi officials in what he called a Saturday night coup against the royal dynasty.

"The attack was launched using a vehicle equipped with a 50-mm machinegun," Mujtahid wrote on his twitter page on Sunday.

He also referred to a twitter post released by Sowt al-Arab, and claimed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been the target of the attack, adding that 7 soldiers have been killed on both sides, while other assailants have disappeared without a trace.

Mujtahid added that a number of Saudi figures affiliated to the royal family were involved in the attack.

He also said a drone has also been used to help the assailants to find their target but the whole incident was a gunfire which lasted one hour.

Heavy gunfire was heard near the Saudi King's palace in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, while King Salman was taken to a bunker at an airbase in the city.

A growing number of videos surfaced the media displaying that a heavy gunfire erupted around King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's palace in the capital, Riyadh.

Reports said the king and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were evacuated to a bunker at an airbase in the city that is under the protection of the US troops.

While Saudi officials and media were quiet over the incident, there were contradicting reports over the incident. Witnesses and residents of the neighborhoods near the palace said a coup was underway, while other reports said a drone had been flying over the palace.

Saudi opposition members claimed that "a senior ground force officer has led a raid on the palace to kill the king and the crown prince".

Videos also showed that a growing number of armored vehicles were deployed around the palace. 'Bin Salman's special guard' had taken charge of security in the capital. Riyadh's sky had been closed to all civil and military flights as military helicopters from 'Bin Salman's special guard' were flying over the palace.

There is yet no official report on any possible casualties.


Sun Apr 22, 2018 - Malaysia carries out autopsy on Palestinian gunned down in ‘Mossad’ hit
Malaysia carries out autopsy on Palestinian gunned down in ‘Mossad’ hit

An autopsy was being carried out Sunday on the body of a Palestinian professor who was gunned down in what his family claim was an assassination by Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, 35, was killed in a drive-by shooting on Saturday, according to Malaysian authorities. He was walking from his highrise apartment to dawn prayers at a local mosque in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Gombak when he was shot by two gunmen riding a motorcycle, officials added.

At the crime scene, police markers indicated 14 bullets had been sprayed at the victim, some of them hitting a wall. An iron grill hit by a bullet was dented.

Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, was quoted by the state-run Bernama news agency as saying Batsh was “an electrical engineer and an expert at making rockets”.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Mazlan Lazim said the investigation was ongoing. “We are investigating all angles. I have to investigate very carefully and deeply. This is an international issue,” Mazlan said Sunday.

He said the autopsy was being carried out at a hospital after which the body would be released to the family. In a statement from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the victim’s family said: “We accuse the Mossad of being behind the assassination.”

The Palestinian movement said Batsh, a research scientist specializing in energy issues, was one of its members. Mohammad Shedad, 17, a student and a relative of the victim, also blamed Mossad for the killing.

“It is definitely the work of Mossad. Fadi is a very clever person, anyone who is clever is a threat to Israel,” he told AFP outside the victim’s Malaysian home. “Fadi is a Hamas member and knows how to make rockets. So (Israel) think he is dangerous.”

Batsh leaves behind a wife and three young children. He had lived in Malaysia for the past 10 years. Ahmad Abu Bakar, 33, a foreign student studying in Malaysia, said he had known the victim for two years.

“He is friendly and he preaches good things. He never preached any hatred. I am shocked by the killing,” he said. Robert Anthony, 56, a security guard at a Chinese primary school near the scene, said he heard the shots ring out but assumed they were “firecrackers”.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Wed May 02, 2018 - Al-Waleed Bin Talal Sells $567mln Hotel
Farsnews

Three months since his release from detention at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding and its partners agreed to sell Movenpick Hotels and Resorts to its associate firm AccorHotels.

The sale, which is reportedly worth $567 million, is expected to close in the second half of 2018. It will raise further questions about the Saudi billionaire’s financial health especially since Kingdom Holding also sold its stake in the Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut for around $100-115 million earlier this year, Middle East Monitor reported.

Al-Waleed, the Kingdom’s most recognised business figure, was freed in late January after being held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for three months on the orders of his cousin Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) as part of an “anti-corruption” crackdown.

Al-Waleed, a nephew of Saudi King Salman, is closely watched in international markets because of investments in companies such as Citigroup and Twitter.

He has declined to provide details of any financial agreement he may have made with bin Salman to secure his release. But it is widely suspected that Al-waleed, who has tried to downplay his detention by describing it as just a “misunderstanding”, relinquished most of his wealth for freedom.

The largest part of Al-waleed’s $17.4 billion fortune lies in Kingdom Holding which accounts for 95 percent of his wealth.

Al-waleed was detained by the Crown Prince along with hundreds of other royals and heads of business last year.

While the Saudi regime insisted that it was part of a wider effort to “crackdown on corruption”, many felt it was a shakedown authorised by a desperate Crown Prince to raise billions of dollars.

And here: May 1, 2018 - Alwaleed Bin Talal sells $567m hotel
Alwaleed Bin Talal sells $567m hotel
 

Ursus Minor

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Is Crown Prince MBS missing since April 21, 2018?

Sun Apr 22, 2018 - Whistle-Blower: Saudi Officials Behind Saturday Night Raid on Royal Palace
Farsnews

Saudi whistle-blower Mujtahid, who is believed to be a member of or have a well-connected source in the royal family, underlined involvement of a number of Saudi officials in what he called a Saturday night coup against the royal dynasty.

"The attack was launched using a vehicle equipped with a 50-mm machinegun," Mujtahid wrote on his twitter page on Sunday.

He also referred to a twitter post released by Sowt al-Arab, and claimed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been the target of the attack, adding that 7 soldiers have been killed on both sides, while other assailants have disappeared without a trace.

Mujtahid added that a number of Saudi figures affiliated to the royal family were involved in the attack.

He also said a drone has also been used to help the assailants to find their target but the whole incident was a gunfire which lasted one hour.

Heavy gunfire was heard near the Saudi King's palace in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, while King Salman was taken to a bunker at an airbase in the city.

A growing number of videos surfaced the media displaying that a heavy gunfire erupted around King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's palace in the capital, Riyadh.

Reports said the king and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were evacuated to a bunker at an airbase in the city that is under the protection of the US troops.

While Saudi officials and media were quiet over the incident, there were contradicting reports over the incident. Witnesses and residents of the neighborhoods near the palace said a coup was underway, while other reports said a drone had been flying over the palace.

Saudi opposition members claimed that "a senior ground force officer has led a raid on the palace to kill the king and the crown prince".

Videos also showed that a growing number of armored vehicles were deployed around the palace. 'Bin Salman's special guard' had taken charge of security in the capital. Riyadh's sky had been closed to all civil and military flights as military helicopters from 'Bin Salman's special guard' were flying over the palace.

There is yet no official report on any possible casualties.

Now it is not that I have been missing him personally, but it makes you wonder...

Have Mohammed bin Salman's enemies (and he's made quite a lot of them recently with his violent crackdown and extortion racket) managed to bump him off, or is it that he's just not fully operational again? Or does he keep hiding to evade the vendetta of certain Saudi tribes he's enraged or alienated by his actions?

Where's Mohammed? Media Speculates About Possible Death of Saudi Crown Prince

The apparent disappearance of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the public eye has led several Iranian media outlets to wonder if one of the most powerful men in the kingdom might’ve been killed during an attempted coup last month.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was allegedly hit by two bullets during the April 21 attack on the royal palace in Riyadh and may actually be dead as he has not appeared in public since the incident, Kayhan newspaper reports citing "a secret service report sent to the senior officials of an unnamed Arab state."

As Press TV points out, no new photo or video of bin Salman has been released by Saudi authorities since that day, and the prince "was not even seen on camera when new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made his maiden visit to Riyadh in late April."

"Bin Salman was a man who almost often appeared before the media but his 27-day absence since the gunfire in Riyadh has raised questions about his health," the Fars news agency remarks.

Source:

Sputnik News: Where's Mohamed?
 

Ruth

The Living Force
I wonder if there was some foreign involvement here? He does not strike me as being a very dependent or dependable "vassal" and he is in charge of a heck of lot of resources. A person like that who can think for themselves is bound to make the global elite very nervous and it's not like they wont interfere if they can get away with it.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Sun May 20, 2018 - Saudi Concerns Growing over Fate of MBS as People Start Asking His Whereabout
Farsnews

Unofficial reports on the death of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman after the last month coup have gathered pace after his month-long absence from the public as Hashtag وفاة_ولی_العهد (#Death-of-Crown-Prince) has gone viral in the country suggesting that the prince has succumbed to his injuries sustained during the coup.

Bin Salman has not been seen in the public since April 21 attack on his palace in Riyadh which has raised speculations about his injury and death.

Yousef al-Hazeri, an Arab social media activist, wrote in his twitter account that "if bin Salman's death is true, it means that Trump has this time used up the milking cow just like a traveling shampoo and threw it into the sinkhole".

Meantime, Rashed al-Dosari, another activist, confirmed bin Salman's death, saying although a reliable source in the royal family has confirmed his death, we are still waiting for the King himself to confirm or deny the report".

Also, Khalid Arash asked why no one has seen Mohammed bin Salman since clashes erupted between the security forces and unknown assailants at the palace if reports about his death are not true.

Moheb al-Nabi va Al-e Baiteh al-Athar wrote, "Since reports leaked on the death of bin Salman, a number of princes, ministers and Saudi figures have been detained and the Saudi officials are in panic over #وفاة_ولی_العهد going viral by social media activists."

Meantime, western analysts and activists have also shown interest in the reports on MBS death, saying that the detention of women's rights activists and the Saudi interior ministry's warning against attempts to disrespect the religious rules about women indicate that reports on bin Salman's death are likely true or he has no more control over his country's political climate.

Kristian Ulrichsen, a Baker Institute fellow for the Middle East, has asked on his twitter page, "Is MBS still in charge? Has he lost control? Where is he?"

Gerd Nonneman‏ stated in reply, "Good question. Haven’t seen him featured in some weeks - and the photograph circulated recently of him with Sisi, MBZ & King Hamad could be from anytime in the past year. He didn’t appear for any of the Ramadan events either, which is very odd."

Harb3Imad‏ has also answered Kristian's question by saying that "extremely important questions Kristian. Haven’t heard or seen anything about him in a few days. Did the WSJ article do him in?"

Last Thursday, an Iranian daily had reported that bin Salman is likely dead after an assassination attempt on his life last month, claiming intel from the security service of an Arab state.

According to the Persian-language newspaper, Keyhan, a secret service report sent to the senior officials of an unnamed Arab state disclosed that bin Salman has been hit by two bullets during the April 21 attack on his palace, adding that he might well be dead as he has never appeared in the public ever since.

Heavy gunfire was heard near the Saudi King's palace in Riyadh Saudi Arabia on April 21, while King Salman was taken to a US bunker at an airbase in the city.

A growing number of videos surfaced the media at the time displaying that a heavy gunfire erupted around King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's palace in the capital, Riyadh.

Reports said the king and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were evacuated to a bunker at an airbase in the city that is under the protection of the US troops.

While Saudi officials and media were quiet over the incident, there were contradicting reports over the incident. Witnesses and residents of the neighborhoods near the palace said a coup was underway, adding that the soldiers attacking the palace were guided by footage and intel they were receiving from a drone flying over the palace.

Saudi opposition members claimed that "a senior ground force officer has led a raid on the palace to kill the king and the crown prince".

Videos also showed that a growing number of armored vehicles were deployed around the palace. 'Bin Salman's special guard' then took charge of security in the capital. Riyadh's sky was then closed to all civil and military flights as military helicopters from 'Bin Salman's special guard' were flying over the palace.

Bin Salman was a man who almost often appeared before the media but his 27-day absence since the gunfire in Riyadh has raised questions about his health.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has witnessed a series of radical political changes over the past year as Mohammed bin Salman ousted his cousin as crown prince and jailed well-known princes in an anti-corruption purge.

Moreover, bin Salman oversees social and economic reforms that have been censured by several powerful Wahhabi clerics.

Saudi Arabia is also embroiled in a long running conflict in its Southern neighbor Yemen, dubbed by the United Nations as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Notably, bin Salman made no media appearance during the April 28 visit of the newly-appointed US State Secretary Mike Pompeo to Riyadh, his first foreign trip as the top US diplomat.

During his stay in Riyadh, Saudi media outlets published images of Pompeo’s meetings with King Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

This is while the state-run outlets used to publish images of meetings in Riyadh between bin Salman and former US secretary of state Rex Tillerson.

A few days after the April 21 incident, Saudi media published footage and images of bin Salman meeting several Saudi and foreign officials. But the date of the meetings could not be verified, so the release of the videos could be aimed at dispelling rumors about bin Salman’s conditions.

It is not clear if bin Salman’s disappearance is due to reasons such as him feeling threatened or being injured in the incident.


Thu May 17, 2018 - Daily: Arab Intel Says Saudi Crown Prince Likely Killed in Coup
Farsnews

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is likely dead after an assassination attempt on his life last month, a Persian-language daily reported claiming intel from the security service of an Arab state.

According to the Persian-language newspaper, Keyhan, a secret service report sent to the senior officials of an unnamed Arab state disclosed that bin Salman has been hit by two bullets during the April 21 attack on his palace, adding that he might well be dead as he has never appeared in the public ever since. (Article continues.)


Sun May 20, 2018 - Saudi Crown Prince Absent from Cadets Graduation Ceremony
Farsnews

Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman who has not appeared in the public after the April 21 coup in his palace continues to be absent in public gatherings and was not seen among a host of Riyadh officials at the cadets graduation ceremony in King Abdolaziz military college on Saturday night either.

The Saudi defense ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that Riyadh ruler Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdolaziz has attended the ceremony instead of bin Salman.

The statement declined to comment on the reason of bin Salman's absence while naturally the defense minister should participate in such ceremonies.

Last Thursday, an Iranian daily reported that bin Salman is likely dead after an assassination attempt on his life last month, claiming intel from the security service of an Arab state.
 
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