Saudi Arabia arrests 11 princes

Saudi Arabia arrests 11 princes

Saudi Arabia arrests 11 princes

Among those being held is the billionaire owner of London's Savoy hotel who has invested in Twitter and Apple.

Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who has extensive holdings in Western companies, was among those arrested, state news agencies reported.

Meanwhile, the kingdom's top council of clerics issued a statement saying it is an Islamic duty to fight corruption - essentially giving religious backing to the high-level arrests being reported.

The arrest of senior princes upends a longstanding tradition among the ruling Al Saud family to keep their disagreements private in an effort to show strength and unity in the face of Saudi Arabia's many tribes and factions.

"The homeland will not exist unless corruption is uprooted and the corrupt are held accountable", the royal decree said.

Saudi Arabia's heir to the throne is overseeing an unprecedented wave of arrests of dozens of the country's most powerful princes, military officers, influential businessmen and government ministers. It also has the power to block bank accounts, trace and prevent fund transfer, put a stop to liquidation of assets and order further measures as deemed fit to prevent graft until the court takes over the case.

Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, May 30, 2017.

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah is reportedly among those detained in the sweep, as is his brother, Prince Turki bin Abdullah, who was once governor of Riyadh. He was replaced by Prince Khalid bin Ayyaf al-Muqrin, who had held a senior post with the guard.

The king named Crown Prince Mohammed the minister of defence in 2015.

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a research fellow at the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, told the Associated Press the arrests were created to further smooth the crown prince's eventual succession to the throne.

It also comes as the Kingdom appears to be in the midst of a major purge of rivals to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saudi monarch relieved Minister of Economy and Planning Adel bin Mohammed Faqih and replaced him by Mohammed bin Mazid Al-Tuweijari.

Under Prince Mohammed, Fakieh led the development of a national transformation plan and privatisation drive launched previous year to end the kingdom's vulnerability to an unpredictable oil market.

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