Saudi Arabia has detained three senior Saudi princes including Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the king’s nephew, for allegedly planning a coup, sources with knowledge of the matter said, Reuters informed.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, King Salman’s son and de facto ruler of the country, the world’s top oil exporter and a key U.S. ally, has moved to consolidate power since ousting Mohammed bin Nayef as heir to the throne in a 2017 palace coup.
Later that year, he arrested several royals and other prominent Saudis, holding them for months at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel in an anti-corruption campaign that caused shockwaves at home and abroad.
Five sources told Reuters that Prince Ahmed and Mohammed bin Nayef were detained in the latest operation. Three of the sources, including a regional source, said Mohammed bin Nayef and his half-brother, Nawaf, were picked up at a private desert camp on Friday. Two sources said Ahmed was taken from his home.
Crown Prince Mohammed, also referred to as MbS, “accused them of conducting contacts with foreign powers, including the Americans and others, to carry out a coup d’etat,” the regional source said.
A source said the princes were accused of “treason”. A third source said they had been discussing a coup with the support of powerful tribes but had not reached advanced stages.
The regional source and another source said King Salman had approved the move. The 84-year-old monarch met British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday in Riyadh. King Salman and the crown prince attended a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.