Saudi Arabia Sacks Military Chiefs In Latest Major Shake-up
Saudi Arabia sacked its top military commanders overnight, including the chief of staff and heads of the ground forces and air defenses. While no official reason was given for the move, implemented in a series of royal decrees, it comes amid further Saudi setbacks in the war in Yemen, where Riyadh is leading a coalition of Sunni states against Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels. It is the latest major shake-up in the Kingdom coinciding with the rise to prominence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who recently spearheaded the arrest of dozens of influential Saudi princes, ministers and billionaires. While that campaign ostensibly was aimed at cracking down on corruption, some analysts believe it constituted an effort by the Crown Prince to consolidate power before assuming the thrown. Saudi Arabia intervened militarily in Yemen nearly three years ago—largely at the urging of bin Salman, a fierce opponent of Tehran who is also the Saudi defense minister—but has been unable to oust the Houthis from the capital Saana. The coalition has also been beset by infighting and recently had one of its major allies on the ground in the south turn against it. Meanwhile, Russia on Monday vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that called for action against violations of an arms embargo on Yemen. The text, citing a report by experts, named Iran as a culprit.