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Arrests of tribal elder fuel conflict between Bin Salman and National Guard

October 11, 2018 at 2:00 am

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]

According to intelligence sources, King Salman has recently been forced to intervene in the power struggle between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the tribes that form the National Guard.

The National Guard consists of fighters who represent the central tribes in the kingdom, which have been loyal to the family of the House of Saud since the founding of the country and has enjoyed considerable independence from Saudi security services for years.

Mohammad bin Salman wants to remove privileges that the tribes have gained under their National Guard connections.

However, a number of tribal sheikhs were arrested and forced to follow the Crown Prince’s political line, according to the French “Intelligence Online” journal.

The move caused a great disturbance among the tribes, and as soon as they recovered from the trauma they suffered because of oppression, the tribes of Mutayr, Otaibah, Anazzah, Bani Auf, Al-Buenan, Ghamd, BaniJizan and Bani Hilal complained to the Royal Palace.

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King Salman bin Abdulaziz intervened personally to calm the growing tension.

Securing the balance between the various tribes in the country is one of the king’s main roles in Saudi Arabia.

According to the French journal, although bin Salman has temporarily retreated from his campaign, he remains determined to restrain the rebel tribes.

The campaign against the tribes and the National Guard is led by General Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al-Huwairini, head of the Saudi state security apparatus.

The apparatus is under the control of the Crown Prince and oversees all internal security and intelligence services in the country, including the General Intelligence Directorate and the Special Forces.

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Many tribes are powerful and can influence others not only within the Kingdom, but even beyond its borders, such as the Mutayr tribe, also spread in Kuwait and Qatar, and the Shammar tribe, which has extensions in Syria and Iraq.

The National Guard has been placed under a suffocating siege since King Salman, and his son came to power in early 2015 and sought to destroy the legacy of the late King Abdullah.

His son, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, took command of the Guard until he was ousted and arrested in November as part of an alleged anti-corruption campaign.

Mutaib bin Abdullah was released a few weeks after being forced to pay a billion dollars, and “Khalid bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ayyaf” was appointed as Head of the National Guard. He is from the tribe of Shammar in Najd.