This video by CaspianReport discusses the recent anti-corruption purge undertaken by the government of Saudi Arabia. On November 4, 2017, several Saudi Arabian business leaders, governmental figures, and members of the royal family were arrested in a major anti-corruption operation led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS). The detainees were held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh (the capital of Saudi Arabia) and all private jets were grounded to prevent suspects from fleeing the country. As many as 500 people were arrested and the Saudi government targeted assets worth up as much as several billion. The Saudi government claimed that the anti-corruption purge ultimately resulted in the recovering of over $100 billion in assets and many observers note that the mass arrests resulted in MbS’s complete consolidation of control of all three branches of the security forces, making him the most powerful man in Saudi Arabia since Ibn Saud, the first King of Saudi Arabia.
Overall, the anti-corruption purge by the Saudi government sparked many reactions amongst commentators and politicians throughout the world. US President Donald Trump expressed a “great deal” of confidence in the judgment of Mohammed Bin Salman and highlighted him a progressive regional leader. Additionally, several commentators expressed the belief that the anti-corruption purge may lead to greater political freedom and openness within Saudi Arabia. Thomas Freidman, a New York Times commentator and expert on Middle Eastern politics stated that the purge is the equivalent to Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring and that it is reminiscent of the policies of Glasnost carried out in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Gorbachev during the mid-late 1980s.
Despite the fact that many feel that the anti-corruption purges in Saudi Arabia may signal positive change for the theocratic monarchy, others feel that the purges will have a profound and negative effect on Saudi society and within the larger context of Middle Eastern politics. Instead of a genuine effort to fundamentally transform the Saudi political and economic landscape, many argue that the purge only served to cement the power of Mohammed Bin Salman (MbS) and prevent any potential rivals from gaining support and influence within Saudi public affairs. During his short time in the public eye, MbS has developed a reputation as a ruthless and cunning leader who is willing to put the interests of himself against the Saudi people. Despite some pro-reform rhetoric, the overall human rights record of Saudi Arabia has declined since MbS was appointed as Crown Prince in mid-2017. Additionally, MbS is a proponent of a hawkish foreign policy that threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East. For example, MbS is a supporter of Zionism and Israeli efforts to persecute the Palestinian people, has encouraged the Saudi government to expand its war in Yemen, and promotes an anti-Iran foreign policy, going as far as to compare the current Iranian government to Nazi Germany. Only time will tell of the anti-corruption purge in Saudi Arabia is a genuine effort to improve Saudi society in the long-run, or another attempt by an authoritarian government to continue to cling to power.
Here is a link to the video: