Saudi dissident prince Khalid bin Farhan Al-Saud stated that the newly formed opposition bloc, announced two weeks ago, is an expression of renunciation regarding an imposed political reality in Saudi Arabia, namely the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s seizure of power and his plan to become king in the future.
On 11 November, a Saudi opposition group known as “Allied for Good Governance” called on Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to take power in Saudi Arabia for a transitional period.
In an exclusive interview with al-Khaleej Online, Prince Khalid said that the opposition bloc unified several political currents in the Saudi kingdom, and all agreed on one opinion: the rejection of Mohammad bin Salman, and naming Prince Ahmed as Crown Prince or king after sacking Salman of Saudi Arabia.
When asked about the reason behind the discordance between different Saudi opposition factions, the dissident prince indicated that “the opposition in Saudi Arabia, which comprises diverse currents and ideologies, expresses its rejection of the current political situation differently. However, this apparent disparity can result in way richer and more positive political stances compared to one single merger of all opposition groups.”
The opposition bloc consists of six political movements and seven independents, including dissident Prince Khaled bin Farhan.
The opposition movement comprises:
- the Karama Movement led by Maan Al-Jarba;
- Ahrar Yam and Hamdan Movement led by Abdul Hadi Al-Yami;
- the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula Movement led by Dakhil bin Nasser Al-Qahtani;
- the National Mobilization Movement;
- Arab Peninsula Officers Movement led by Marzouq Mishaan Al-Otaibi; and
- Right and Justice movement led by Mana bin Mahdhel.
Stumbling Saudi leadership
Bin Farhan said that developments in Saudi Arabia, since King Salman’s accession to the throne, proved that his rule is flawed with “confusion and irrationality.” He confirmed that “if other countries and Al-Saud decide to go against Salman of Saudi Arabia and his son Mohammad, a wave of violence is likely to occur as the Saudi kingdom is reigned using ignorant and barbaric methods”.
He added: “I hope that there will be a soft coup that overthrows the deep state and takes controls of prominent security institutions, and then sacks the Crown Prince and the king.”
According to bin Farhan, both Prince Muhammed bin Nayef and Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah are still under house arrest, banned from leaving the kingdom and kept under close surveillance by the Crown Prince’s security services.
He stressed that any expected rise against bin Salman will not be undertaken by the princes, who are kept under the Crown Prince’s microscopic surveillance, but rather by other branches within the royal family.
Bin Farhan revealed that Mohammad bin Salman’s jealousy of Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Mohammad Al-Saud, known as “Ghazalan,” was the motive behind ordering the latter’s arrest and physically assaulting him in bin Salman’s office, accompanied by his father, who was also arrested after objecting to what his son was subjected to.
Bin Farhan pointed out that Prince Ghazalan and his father will be released soon, but in a “humiliating” way as in the case of Prince bin Nayef and Prince Mutaib, and that they will also be kept under tight surveillance.
Media reports revealed that French President Emmanuel Macron intervened to release Prince Ghazalan and his father, amid concerns for their safety expressed by the prince’s family after the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.
Prince Ghazalan’s family expressed great concerns over the fate of both princes, after losing contact with them since they have been summoned to the royal palace, 10 months ago, which prompted French presidency and foreign ministry to intervene. Both princes have been detained since January after Prince Ghazalan expressed his opinion regarding the political situation in the kingdom and due to Mohammad bin Salman’s jealousy over the prince’ extensive relations with European leaders.
Prince Ahmed reconsiders his options
Regarding the secret behind Bin Salman’s decision to release his cousin, Khaled bin Talal, a year after his arrest, Prince bin Farhan explained that Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz’s visit to his severely ill brother, Prince bin Talal, and his mediation in bin Talal’s favour, in addition to Khashoggi’s assassination confused the Saudi administration and resulted in the release of Prince Khaled. Thus, other princes are expected to be liberated in the future, after Prince bin Talal’s release.
The dissident prince told al-Khaleej Online that overthrowing Bin Salman can be “difficult as he insists to continue in office and also due to the isolation imposed on his uncle Ahmed, who seems to be qualified in terms of reputation and competence to rule the kingdom. Nonetheless, Prince Ahmed, who is widely supported by the royal family, Saudi tribes and Europe, preferred to take prudent steps in order to protect the country from a wave of chaos.”
Bin Farhan indicated that “it is unlikely that the moves will be carried out by Prince Ahmed, who is under intense scrutiny as all his movements and contacts are monitored. However, other members of the royal family will undertake the coup against King Salman and his son, which will enable Prince Ahmed to seize power.”
“It is possible that bin Salman would arrest his uncle Ahmed or assassinate him if he is able to do so, but this seems very unlikely in light of what is happening inside the royal family, as well as following the incident of Khashoggi’s murder. If Al-Saud detected any clue about a foul plan in this regard, they would immediately turn against bin Salman and overthrow him,” clarified bin Farhan.
Concerning bin Farhan’s personal security, he stressed that German authorities tightened safety protocols around him after Khashoggi’s assassination, pointing out in the same context that he has not received recently any serious death threats.
At the end of the interview, the dissident Saudi Prince admitted that “God only knows” how the situation in Saudi Arabia would turn out in the future. However, he highlighted that “certainly there is a change that will take place in the country, and I hope it will be a soft one, relying on the royal family’s good control of the security services and the deep state. Otherwise, Saudi Arabia will go through a bloody coup d’état. “