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World These Are the Biggest Geopolitical Risks of 2019 Now even that is thrown into question with the arrest of State Minister and Aramco board member Ibrahim Al-Assaf. Minister of Economy and Planning Adel bin Mohammed Faqih was also taken into custody this weekend. In total, at least 38 past, current and deputy ministers have been detained in whats been framed as an anti-corruption drive (though its still too early to tell if thats actually the case). If youre going to overhaul an entire economy, you may as well start with a clean slate. 3. Military leaders Its entirely possible that the ministers controlling key parts of the Sa
udi economy were arrested less because they posed a direct threat to MBS and more because they disagreed about the direction of economic reforms. Theres no question that the arrests of Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed al Sultan, commander of the Kingdoms naval forces, and Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, Minister of the National Guard, were intended to ensure a monopoly of power for MBS. The crown prince has been defense minister of the Kingdom since 2015, and the National Guard was the last security force that r
emained outside his control. Mitaab was the one person inside the government who couldve posed a serious challenge to MBS. Thats no longer a worry. 4. The religious establishment Taking on military leaders is the most traditional component of the crown princes purge. But taking on the religious establishment is the most radical. The Saudi Kingdom has a rather complicated relationship with Wahabism, a fundamentalist version of Islam. Briefly, the al Saud tribe needed the followers of Muhammed ibn al-Wahhab to help transform them from just another regional tribe on the Arabian peninsula to the dominant force we know today, first to fight alongside them and then to help create and maintain a Saudi civil society. Get The Brief. Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know right now.
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utes, please check your spam folder. But the relationship has always been uneasywhereas Saudi rulers had wanted to engage with the world, Wahhabists shunned modernity as heretical. That became a particular problem once Saudi oil made the kingdom a magnet for foreign investors. For decades, it was an uneasy peace. Thats about to change. It began with MBSs announcement two months ago that the Saudi Kingdom would begin issuing drivers licenses to females. Hes gone further, forbidding the Saudi religious police from arresting Saudi citizens, and he has begun to modernize the Saudi Council for Hadith rulings, which regulates the daily behaviors of devout Muslims. He was also sure to sweep up dozens of hardline clerics in this weeks purge. 5. Business leaders Of course, a successful purge doesnt mean just removing those with formal powers. As with all political power plays, theres a crucial PR component involved. And if youre going to control the narrative, you have to control the ones telling that narrativehence the arrests of Waleed al-Ibrahim, chairman of the MBC media group. Relatedly, the former CEO of the Saudi Telecom Company, Saud al-Dawish, was also detained over the weekend. But there was no more surprising arrest than that of billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal a cousin of MBS who is perhaps Saudi Arabias most renowned international investor, with significant stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup. It was particularly surprising given Alwaleed support of MBS general reform push an
d moderation of Islam
, both in private and in public. Its that last part that m
ay have been his undoingin 2017 Saudi Arabia, theres only one mouthpiece for liberalizing social, culture and religion in Saudi society, and thats the one about to ascend
the throne. If nothing else, the purge shows MBS has the ambition necessary to transform the Kingdom of Saudi Ar天将图库搏彩网香港天下彩 abia into a modern, diversified 21st century economy. Now comes the hard partexecuting on those ambitions. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.