Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to become king before a G20 Summit planned for November in Riyadh, which he intends to use as a stage for his succession, the Middle East Eye reports.
The heir to the throne, who is also known as MBS, has already launched a purge of senior members of the royal family to pave the way for the succession.
On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal said Saudi Arabia had detained a fourth prince in a new purge of royal family members over an alleged coup attempt to unseat King Salman and his son.
Two Saudis close to the royal family said Nayef bin Ahmed bin Abdulaziz had been arrested on Saturday, the newspaper reported.
He was the fourth prince taken into custody after the detention of his father Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, along with former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and his half brother Nawaf on Friday.
According to London-based Middle East Online, bin Salman would not wait for his father King Salman to die. Instead, the crown prince would force his father who suffers from dementia to abdicate.
“He wants to be sure while his father is there, he becomes the king,” one source said.
The sources said Prince Ahmed had been asked to back bin Salman’s succession, which he refused.
Ahmed did not plan a coup — an apparent reason given for his arrest — and was apprehended right after entering the palace, where he had been told that an audience with King Salman awaited him. “He did not see the king. It was total betrayal,” one source said.
Back in 2017, bin Salman ordered a purge of dozens of Saudi royal figures, ministers, and businessmen in an “anti-corruption” campaign, which was seen as an attempt to muffle dissent to his potential enthronement.
Sources told the Middle East Online that bin Salman had launched the crackdown because he feared that Donald Trump, who is one of his biggest supporters, might not be elected US president again.
Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have consistently refused to hold the crown prince accountable for the murder of Saudi journalist Jammal Khashoggi, who was dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 reportedly under the crown prince’s direct orders.
Trump and Pompeo have blocked calls for a criminal investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation or the United Nations.
Under Trump, Washington has also generously aided the Saudi-led war on Yemen, orchestrated by MBS.