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Saudi Authorities Arrest Royals Over Alleged Coup Plot

Saudi authorities over the weekend detained three princes, including King Salman’s brother and nephew, for allegedly plotting a coup. The arrests are being construed as a final push to shore up Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s de facto rule and come as the kingdom has launched what some are describing as an all-out “oil price war.” [1] The House of Saud is also grappling with an intensifying outbreak of the coronavirus that has prompted officials to shutter schools and universities, cordon off a large Shi’ite-majority region in the east and to severely curtail access to Islam’s holiest sites. Those arrested were Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a brother of King Salman; the monarch’s nephew, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef; as well as the latter’s son. They were purportedly hatching a plan to unseat the crown prince, who in 2017 replaced bin Nayef as heir to the throne. That same year, the bin Salman placed dozens of leading royals and businessmen under house arrest at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh. The incident was portrayed internally as a crackdown on corruption although many viewed it as an effort by the newly minted crown prince to consolidate power.