From all appearances on the surface, there is a major purge under way in Saudi Arabia this weekend. The new crown prince, 32-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, has arrested several rival family members and numerous other high officials and put them under house arrest in the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Most of the arrestees were supporters of the late King Abdullah.
Several news outlets including CNN report that a missile fired from Yemen at Riyadh was intercepted by a Patriot anti-missile battery, but a source of mine in Saudi Arabia says this report may be fake news from the palace, intended as cover for bin Salman’s moves.
There’s a strong anti-Iran angle to this story. First, Lebanon’s prime minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation while on a visit to Riyadh, which is very strange in itself, but Hariri blasted Hezbollah and Iranian domination of Lebanon in his speech. The Puffington Host reports:
Hossein Sheikholeslam, senior advisor to the Iranian foreign minister . . . accused US President Donald Trump and the Saudi crown prince of pressurising Hariri into resigning: “Al-Hariri’s resignation was done in coordination with Trump and Mohammed bin Salman to foment tension in Lebanon and the region,” Sheikholeslam said.
Meanwhile, a Turkish newspaper is reporting that a helicopter with a prince and several senior officials has crashed near the Yemeni border, but I haven’t seen any confirmation of this story from American or European news sources yet.
Keep your eyes on this. I rather hope that the Iranian “adviser” is correct about the reasons (and people) behind these developments, and that this move is part of a larger strategy to increase the region’s resistance to Iran.