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Madawi al-Rasheed: Saudi Arabia arrests protracts the kingdom's 'Game of Thrones'

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud delivers a speech as he attends the Saudi Arabia - United States Partnership Meeting in Washington, United States on 23 March, 2018 [Saudi Kingdom Council Handout/Anadolu Agency]
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud delivers a speech as he attends the Saudi Arabia - United States Partnership Meeting in Washington, United States on 23 March, 2018 [Saudi Kingdom Council Handout/Anadolu Agency]

Madawi al-Rasheed: Saudi Arabia Arrests protracts the kingdom’s ‘Game of Thrones’

Saudi writer Madawi al-Rasheed said that three recent waves of arrests reflect the paranoia of the new Saudi leadership, and suggested that that it appeared incapable of discriminating between friend and foe.

The author added in an article published on the British Middle East Eye website: “These arrest campaigns can be considered as a sign of the leadership’s sense of insecurity, repressive tactics, or a popular mobilization strategy to ensure agreement on his policies and leadership, considering his legitimacy as the heir to the throne.”

The Saudi scholar went on:

“However, each campaign of arrests is targeting individuals in ways that seem to perpetuate the ongoing epic of the Saudi Game of Thrones. This in turn highlights the incapability of the Saudi leadership to focus on developing the economic vision it had presented. The arrests also reflect the evil desire to expand power through repression instead of consensus.”

The writer pointed to the waves of arrests. First, a group of Islamists were targeted in September 2017. They were all accused of promoting religious extremism at a time when the crown prince wanted to move Saudi Arabia to a more moderate doctrine. Among the arrested were famous religious scholars and thinkers and even economists.

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The writer said they did not have common extremist tendencies, but what united them as a group was their reluctance to praise the Prince’s economic vision or condemn Qatar as a source of terrorism. They criticized the polices of King Salman and his son.

She pointed out that the second wave of arrests was more controversial in terms of figures and the unusual place in which they were held. In November 2017, princes such as Mutaib bin Abdullah, Commander of the

Saudi National Guard, billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal, and many other names among the economic and administrative elite were arrested. They were detained at the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh. Finally, this week there were reports of the arrest of seven women’s rights activists. In an unusual move, pictures of active women were published in the Saudi print media, where the headlines praised the leadership for getting rid of such ‘traitors’.

 

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