RNA - Britain’s Guardian newspaper quoted three sources as saying on Tuesday that the arrest on Friday of the pair — namely Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the sole remaining full brother of King Salman and a potential rival to bin Salman, as well as former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef — was ordered after details of their alleged conversations were passed to the royal court.
Two of the Guardian’s sources said the senior royals were accused of having sought to install Prince Ahmed as chairman of the Allegiance Council, a position that is currently vacant.
The council was established in 2007 to ensure a smooth transition of power should the king or crown prince die.
The arrest of the two men was directed by bin Salman, whom they are accused of having tried to sideline through the council.
However, the alleged discussions are not believed to have developed and appear to fall short of claims that the two men were planning a coup against the crown prince.
Mohammed bin Nayef, the monarch’s nephew, was next in line to the throne before he was suddenly replaced by bin Salman in 2017. Since being ousted, Prince Nayef has effectively been under house arrest and prevented from leaving the kingdom.
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia detained a fourth prince in a new purge of royal family members over an alleged coup attempt to unseat King Salman and his son MBS.
Prince Nayef bin Ahmed bin Abdulaziz was the fourth prince taken into custody after the detention of his father Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, along with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and his half brother Nawaf on Friday.
The arrests have sparked speculation that aging King Salman is about to die or abdicate.
Reuters cited a regional source as saying that bin Salman “accused them of conducting contacts with foreign powers, including the Americans and others, to carry out a coup d’etat.”
The news agency further quoted sources as saying that King Salman had himself signed the arrest warrants.
Other reports have emerged suggesting that bin Salman is seeking to become king before an upcoming G20 Summit to be hosted by Riyadh.
Back in November 2017, dozens of Saudi princes, ministers and former ministers were detained and placed in a luxury hotel under tight security guard over allegations of money laundering, bribery, extorting officials, and misappropriation of public funds for personal benefits.
The detentions had been ordered by Saudi Arabia’s so-called Anti-Corruption Committee headed by Mohammed bin Salman, in a crackdown widely believed to be aimed at consolidating his power.
The majority of those high-profile figures later agreed to monetary settlements in exchange for their freedom and paid colossal sums of money.
The purge followed an earlier roundup of Muslim clerics, writers, economists, and public figures.