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Saudi Arabia arrests 4 ministers and 11 princes

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the arrest of four government ministers and 11 royal princes hours after he was named the head of a new anti-corruption committee. Billionaire prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who has stakes in major U.S. companies like Apple and Twitter, was among those arrested. Gary Sick, a senior research scholar at Columbia University, joins Hari Sreenivasan.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    For more on the Saudi purge, I’m joined here in the studio by Gary Sick who served in the National Security Council under Presidents Ford Carter and Reagan. He’s now a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute and an adjunct professor at the School of International and Public Affairs. So why do this purge?

  • Gary Sick:

    You know that’s the big question. They say it’s all about corruption but I really don’t believe that. Among those people who were arrested were the head of the National Guard which is the one remaining military group that wasn’t under the control of the Crown Prince already. I think that provided excellent cover to get him get him out of the way. They arrested just a couple of weeks ago a huge number of clerics and liberal minded reformers who were in many ways critical in one form or another of the Crown Prince. It looks very much as if they’re clearing the way down here for a takeover so that the young prince is going to be the king. So basically, we’ve got a different kind of Saudi Arabia than we had before and this has real effects on the stability of the region.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Speaking of stability, one of those caught up in this is a global investor who’s got his fingers in lots of places. What does that do to? Not just those companies but different markets seeing where Saudi Arabia is putting its money?

  • Gary Sick:

    The Saudi leadership announced today that this wouldn’t have any impact on the holdings and the continuity of all of these companies. But you know, you’re a key investor in house arrest in a fancy hotel in Riyadh, you have to wonder about the state of the company and what happens to all of those shares. And what about his voting rights?

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    There are kind of two questions here. The sort of direction of Saudi Arabia in the sense that just in the last few months we’ve seen incremental movements that women are going to get the right to drive and they’re going to get the right to go to soccer stadiums. On the other hand, we are engaged in a military conflict in Yemen as a coalition partner with them as well. While all of this consolidation of power happens.

  • Gary Sick:

    Well you know this is the unanswered question because once the young prince came in he immediately launched an invasion of Yemen which even people who are only vaguely aware of the situation in the Arabian Peninsula could have told him is a losing proposition which has turned into a quagmire. He is pouring money into the thing and it’s not getting any place. Then, just not very long ago he launched a siege of Qatar in which he cut off one of the countries that is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council which we’ve always relied on for military stability in the region. It looks as if it’s not going to be resolved anytime soon. And then, on the same day, the announcement of the palace purge took place. Saudi Arabia intervened in the politics of Lebanon and got rid of the prime minister there. And it looks as if that could have long term implications that could lead to internal breakdown of civil war or even a war between Israel and Hezbollah. So they’re really involved in upsetting the status quo throughout the region. And you know the United States to a considerable degree is complicit in this because the relationship that President Trump has created with the new Crown Prince which is very very strong, puts us as a part of this.

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