The Strategist

Saudi Arabia is going through revolutionary changes

11/09/2017 - 13:48

Saudi Arabia is experiencing the biggest turmoil in its 85-year history. A decree of King Salman gave rise an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign, during which 11 princes from the ruling family, a number of high-ranking officials and influential businessmen were arrested. The initiator of the arrests is the king’s son, the young prince Mohammed bin Salman, who proclaimed a program of radical reforms "Vision 2030". The main directions of the new strategy are aimed at strengthening the regional leadership of Riyadh. Among them are restoration of the government’s authority, opening the country to the outside world and reducing the dependence of its economy on oil.

Changes in Saudi Arabia promise to radically alter the face of the world's oil superpower and the leading monarchy of the Persian Gulf, which remains a key ally of the United States in the region and is considered one of the strongholds of Wahhabism, the country’s official religious movement.

The first of the world leaders who reacted to the anti-corruption campaign deployed in the Saudi Kingdom was US President Donald Trump, who continues his tour of Asia. "Some of those who have been treated hard have milked their country for years," he wrote on Twitter. Visiting Riyadh with a "historic visit" in May this year, Donald Trump expressed "high confidence" to King Salman and the Crown Prince, who, he said, "know exactly what they are doing."

Meanwhile, the corruption scandal that has erupted in the kingdom is gathering new details and is revealing increasingly more names of high-ranking officials and members of the royal family who have lost the informal status of untouchables. Saudi Prosecutor General Saud al-Mujib stated that the investigative bodies are conducting "detailed interrogations" of more than 40 arrested members of the country's top leadership and representatives of the business elite, among whom were 11 princes from the royal family. "This is the beginning of a vital process to eradicate corruption. The suspects were detained so that they could not escape from justice, " he explained.

Mass detentions were initiated by the High Committee to Combat Corruption. The organization, led by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is the Minister of Defense, was established last Saturday by Saudi monarch’s decree. The list of the first detainees includes the king's nephew and one of the richest people in the kingdom Prince Al-Walid Bin Talal (his fortune exceeds $ 17 billion), dismissed Minister of Economy and Planning Adel al-Faqih, former head of the Ministry of National Guard Prince Mutaib bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as well as former State Minister Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf. The detainees are accused of corruption, abuse of power, embezzlement of budgetary funds and money laundering.

Against the backdrop of arrests in Saudi Arabia (along with reports that the Chinese authorities increased the oil import quota for independent refineries by 63% in 2018, to 142 million tons), the price of Brent crude oil exceeded $ 64 per barrel, having updated the maximum for the first time since June 2015. 


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