A former senior American official also confirmed the detentions to NYTimes
DESPARDES — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has detained a brother of the king, a former crown prince and a cousin, royals who may have been seen as threats to his rule, says a report in The New York Times.
Co-authored by Ben Hubbard — its Middle East Correspondent, the report comes as Hubbard’s book “MBS” hit the bookshelf.
The Crown Prince has reportedly detained three members of the royal family, says the report.
The detentions were the latest demonstration of the crown prince’s willingness to take extraordinary measures to quash any perceived rival, it said.
“The detentions come at a time when fears about the impact of the coronavirus have slashed the price of oil, the main source of the kingdom’s revenue, and the crown prince’s celebrated plans to diversify the Saudi economy have fallen behind his promises”.
The detentions were not announced by the Saudi government, and it remains unclear what prompted them. An official at the Saudi Embassy in Washington declined to comment.
They were disclosed Friday by a member of the royal family and a person close to the clan. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because of the danger of speaking out publicly about the crown prince.
A former senior American official also confirmed the detentions.
The most senior royal detained was Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, who for a time had been the great hope of family members and other critics who wished to block Crown Prince Mohammed, 34, from taking the throne.
The former crown prince who was arrested, Mohammed bin Nayef, is also a former interior minister and longtime American favorite. He had developed close ties to American intelligence agencies during years of work together while he was interior minister. He was ousted from both of those roles by the current crown prince in 2017 and he has effectively been under house arrest since then.
His younger brother, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef, was also detained.
According to the report, these detentions comprise a fresh episode of Saudi palace intrigue.
The 35-year-old crown prince, known as MBS, has been the country’s de facto ruler since 2017, when his father ousted Mohammed bin Nayef, the former crown prince, in MBS’s favor.
MBS has won international praise for efforts to modernize the kingdom, such as abolishing rules that forbade women from driving and the Vision 2030.
But he has been ruthless in his pursuit of dominance within the royal family, the NY Post reported.