MBS’ rise to power has caused unprecedented in-fighting within the Saudi royal family, in large part because of MBS’ ruthless efforts to gain allegiance from family members, efforts which even led him to imprison and torture many of his relatives in an alleged “corruption probe.”
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – A shocking interview of an exiled Saudi prince calling for regime change in his home country has gone viral as in-fighting within the Saudi royal family and simmering domestic discontent with the current government’s policies may have reached a breaking point.
Exiled Saudi Prince Khalid bin Farhan, in a videotaped appearance with Middle East Eye, called on two of his relatives in particular — Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz and Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz – to launch a coup against the current ruler King Salman and, the real power behind him, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, popularly referred to as MBS in Western media. According to Prince Khalid, who was granted political asylum by Germany in 2013, “99 percent of the members of the royal family, the security services and the army would stand behind them,” were they to challenge the country’s current rulers.
Both of the relatives named by Khalid have been influential in the Saudi government in the past. Ahmed bin Abdulaziz was longtime deputy minister of interior from 1975 to 2012 and briefly served as minister of interior in 2012, while Muqrin bin Abdulaziz was head of Saudi intelligence until 2012 and served briefly as crown prince in 2015 before resigning. He was replaced by Muhammad bin Nayef, who was dramatically ousted in June of last year by MBS — who since then has brought numerous “reforms” to the country, seeking to modernize it, while also cultivating a controversial alliance with his country’s long-time enemy, Israel.
MBS’ rise to power has caused unprecedented in-fighting within the Saudi royal family, in large part because of MBS’ ruthless efforts to gain allegiance from family members, efforts which even led him to imprison and torture many of his relatives in an alleged “corruption probe.” Many of those detained willingly ceded small fortunes to MBS in exchange for their freedom. Other Saudi royals, who were not imprisoned but whose loyalty to MBS was questioned, have instead been held under house arrest. Some reports suggest that many of them have been fitted with tracking devices to prevent them from leaving the country.
Watch | Prince Khaled calls for a coup in Riyadh
Prince Khaled noted the growing resentment toward MBS within the royal family, telling Middle East Eye that “there is so much anger within the royal family” while also noting that MBS’ “corruption probe” and surveillance of other members of the royal family have been “humiliating” and have undermined the royal family’s clout with the Saudi people. This climate prompted him to take “this information and appeal to my uncles Ahmed and Muqrin, who are the sons of [former Saudi King] Abdulaziz and are highly educated, well versed, and able to change things for the better. I can say that we are all behind them and support them.”
Prince Khaled also told Middle East Eye that he has “received a large number of emails from within the police and army in support” of his call for a coup.
Deepening mystery surrounding MBS’ whereabouts and well-being
While the exiled prince’s clout within the royal family remains largely unknown, his comments are being taken seriously given the widespread speculation and unconfirmed rumors regarding MBS’ whereabouts following an alleged coup attempt that took place on April 21, over a month ago.
At the time, amateur videos taken in Riyadh showed heavy gunfire and explosions taking place near the Saudi royal palace. Subsequent but unconfirmed reports claimed that King Salman was evacuated to a bunker at a nearby military base and that MBS had been injured by gun fire. Some sources claimed that the attack was a coup attempt launched by disgruntled members of the royal family while the Saudi government officially stated that the gunfire was the result of palace guards shooting down a “toy drone” that breached the palace compound.
While the real story of what happened that day remains unknown, speculation has mounted as Riyadh has continued to remain tight-lipped on the incident and has remained silent while rumors – particularly those regarding MBS’ alleged injuries and even claims that he has died – continue to circulate.
Meanwhile, MBS – who has made it a point to be in the public eye ever since his dramatic rise to power – has remained largely out of public view since that incident took place. Particularly unusual was MBS’ absence during the high-profile visit of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh at the end of April. During his notable absence from public events for over a month, the Saudi government has only released a handful of pictures purporting to show MBS attending a recent cabinet meeting. However, skeptics remain unconvinced as no video footage was released and given that no official explanation has been offered for MBS’ absence from all major public events over the last month.
With Prince Khalid’s interview and calls for a coup now going viral, speculation over MBS’ whereabouts and his grip on power will likely only continue to grow.
Top Photo | Saudi Arabia ministers enter the Moncloa Palace for a ceremony presided by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, in Madrid, Spain, April 12, 2018. Paul White | AP
Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.