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Saudi royals arrested over coup attempt: reports

March 7, 2020

Black-clad royal guards have reportedly arrested two senior members of the Saudi royal family over an alleged coup attempt. The Saudi king's only surviving brother was seen as one viable alternative to the crown prince.

Saudi King Salman chairs the 40th Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Riyadh
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Nabil

Saudi authorities reportedly arrested two senior members of the royal family over an alleged coup attempt on Friday.

King Salman's younger brother, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, and the king's nephew Mohammed bin Nayef were taken into custody, according to US media outlets.

Read more: Saudi minister: 'We don't have a history of murdering our citizens'

The Wall Street Journal reported that the pair were accused of plotting to oust King Salman and his appointed successor, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Both men were arrested in their homes and charged with treason, it reported, citing unnamed sources.

The arrested nephew was once the head of Saudi counterterrorism efforts, and had been crown prince until King Salman stripped him of the title in 2017 and appointed his son instead.

Additionally, The New York Times reported that Prince Nayef's younger brother, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef, had also been arrested.

History of crackdowns

Crown Prince bin Salman has been consolidating his position of power, with a crackdown on prominent clerics and activists as well as princes and business elites.

Though not yet sitting on the throne, bin Salman is seen as the de-facto ruler of the country, controlling all major levels of government.

He faced international condemnation over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate in October 2018.

The king's only surviving brother had been seen as a possible alternative to bin Salman. He has kept a low profile since appearing to  criticize the Saudi leadership during a trip to London in 2018.

Read more: Saudi Arabia burnishes reform image with women's football league

As well as conducting a purge of potential challengers, the crown prince has undertaken ambitious social and economic reforms, including offering a portion of oil giant Saudi Aramco on the domestic stock exchange.

aw/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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