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News Link • Saudi Arabia

The purge in Saudi Arabia, explained

•, by Zack Beauchamp

Mohammed bin Salman, the ambitious 32-year-old crown prince of Saudi Arabia, is rounding up the opposition — specifically, the opposition inside his own royal family.

Over the weekend, Saudi police arrested an astonishing 11 princes, along with dozens of other officials and businessmen, at the direction of bin Salman and his father, King Salman. Nominally, the arrests are part of an anti-corruption drive spearheaded by the prince, widely known as MBS, but many experts say what's really happening is the crown prince and heir to the throne jailing potential rivals to cement his own power.

"Corruption charges can be generated on just about anyone in government or business," says Colin Kahl, a professor at Georgetown University who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East in the Obama administration. "This looks like the final step to consolidate MBS's authority by removing possible challengers."

The roundup is part of a series of steps that MBS has taken since becoming crown prince in June to secure his own position as, essentially, the architect of Saudi policy for the remainder of his father's reign.

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