Saudi Arabia Arrests Billionaire Investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Detains Others
Deadline Hollywood reports that Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a stakes holder in Fox, Time Warner, Citigroup, Twitter, Apple, Motorola, just to name a few, was arrested by Saudi Arabia. Ten 10 other princes and several ministers were also detained in what is allegedly an anti-corruption probe headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“…exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money.” King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Eleven princes were detained along with around 14 current and former government ministers in what the Saudi government is calling an “anti-corruption” probe. Among those detained in addition to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, are Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, the head of the National Guard, and Adel Faqih, the economy minister, Abdullah al-Sultan, commander of the Saudi navy, and Waleed Ibrahim, the chairman of the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC- parent company of Al-Arabiya).
The anti-corruption committee has the far-reaching power to freeze assets and portfolios, track funds, make arrests, and create travel bans in relation to any part of the investigation.
Prince bin Talal is the head of Kingdom Holdings, a multi-billion dollar company that has extensive holdings around the world – including the United States- in everything from movies to telecommunications and technology. He has also been seen in the company of many women, none of whom wear traditional Islamic garb.
The Crown Prince has been shaking up the Saudi government ever since he took power in June. He has promised to return the state to a more “moderate form of Islam.” The recent move to allow women to drive may or may not be part of that idea. In recent years Saudi Arabia has been in the grip of Wahhabism, a rigid Islamic sect that has promoted public beheadings and other barbaric practices. It remains to be seen what will happen in that regard, and whether or not it will cause an uprising within the Muslim country.
Much of what they have been doing in the months after the Crown Prince took over has been done in secrecy.
According to political analyst Marwan Bishara in Al-Jazeera,
“There have been signs over the last two and a half years that more of this is coming. [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] is raising the leverage of power in Saudi Arabia. He certainly has the blessings of his father King Salman and he’s determined to make all kinds of changes in Saudi Arabia itself and in Saudi foreign policy, which led to the war in Yemen and the Gulf crisis.
But internally this is new. Not only do we have a new chapter opening up in Saudi Arabia, we have a whole new book, a whole new political alphabet with one exception: it’s still all done in secrecy. Why those 11 princes, why those four standing ministers? Is it really just to consolidate power or is there more to it?
Why isn’t there more transparency and sharing of evidence about the setting up of the committee? We really are on the brink of dramatic changes.”
Featured image of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal – screenshot via Kingdom Holdings.