I Do Not Know What to Make of This, but It Seems Significant

There is some sort of seriously f%$#ed up dynastic sh%$ going on inside of the house of Saud:

Saudi Arabia announced the arrest on Saturday night of the prominent billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, plus at least 10 other princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers.

The announcement of the arrests was made over Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned satellite network whose broadcasts are officially approved. Prince Alwaleed’s arrest is sure to send shock waves both through the kingdom and the world’s major financial centers.

He controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men, owning or having owned major stakes in 21st Century Fox, Citigroup, Apple, Twitter and many other well-known companies. The prince also controls satellite television networks watched across the Arab world.

The sweeping campaign of arrests appears to be the latest move to consolidate the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the favorite son and top adviser of King Salman.

At 32, the crown prince is already the dominant voice in Saudi military, foreign, economic and social policies, stirring murmurs of discontent in the royal family that he has amassed too much personal power, and at a remarkably young age.

The king had decreed the creation of a powerful new anti-corruption committee, headed by the crown prince, only hours before the committee ordered the arrests.

The machinations of the House of Saud are a bag full of cats, but I find this behavior unusual, even by the standards of Riyadh.

Normally, when power dynamics shift, you find people quietly removed from their positions, and any arrests or detentions are on the down-low.  Public notice mass detentions of the royals are unprecedented.

Because of this, I do not think that this is coming from a position of strength.

Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) policy initiatives have not gone well, the Yemen operation is a hole sucking resources and diplomatic credibility, and the conflict with Qatar is not turning out as expected, and I think there has been increasing push-back from elements of the royal family against the meteoric rise of MBS.

What this means in the longer term for Saudi Arabia is unclear to me, but I think that there are likely to be some major shifts in the monarchy.

This could be a new path forward, or it could be rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

My money is on the the latter, but I’m an optimist.

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