Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Ph.D., an affiliate professor at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, recently wrote an article for Politico Magazine discussing the recent actions of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who just executed a sweeping—and risky—purge of his potential political adversaries. Ulrichsen writes:
Even by the torrid pace of change Saudis have become used to under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, developments over the past two days have been as frenetic as they are momentous. The removal of Prince Miteb bin Abdullah as commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard and one of the few remaining autonomous sources of authority in the kingdom, was followed swiftly by the detention of at least 11 members of the ruling family and dozens of others, including government ministers and ex-ministers and key figures in the business community. The detentions, framed as part of a sweeping crackdown on corruption following a royal decree that mandated a Supreme Committee headed by Mohammed bin Salman to address the issue, represent the latest in a series of bold moves by a youthful crown prince who has centralized authority to a degree unprecedented in recent Saudi history, but risk weakening the checks and balances that for decades have characterized royal family rule in the kingdom.