The wave of arrests and ministerial modifications in Saudi Arabia on the weekend has basically remodeled the construction of the state because it has existed for the reason that 1960s.

Saudi Arabia has practiced a type of collective management for the reason that demise of the founder King Abdulazziz in 1953 and particularly for the reason that abdication of his son King Saud in 1964.

The crown has descended among the many youthful sons of Abdulazziz, with every son and his household tending to regulate one component of the state.


Prince Faisal after which his son managed the international ministry for many years. Prince Sultan managed the protection ministry; Prince Nayef, the inside ministry and safety forces.

Prince Abdullah managed the National Guard, a well-armed militia recruited from the royal household’s conventional tribal supporters. And Prince Salman served as governor of Riyadh.

The system was supposed to keep away from the focus of an excessive amount of energy in anyone department of the household and provides all of the sons of the founding king a stake in it.

While formal energy has at all times resided with the monarch, in apply the king was anticipated to seek the advice of with different senior members of the royal household and rule by consensus.

The Saudi system of presidency has been extra prime-ministerial than presidential.

In truth, the king has at all times been concurrently the prime minister, whereas the crown prince has served as deputy prime minister, and different senior princes have served as ministers in a proper cupboard.

But the system has been basically altered in quite a few essential methods for the reason that demise of King Abdullah and the accession of King Salman in 2015.


King Abdullah was predeceased by each his supposed successors, Prince Sultan and Prince Nayef, so the crown handed to Prince Salman.

Prince Muqrin, a fair youthful son of King Abdulazziz, was designated as crown prince and inheritor obvious, however had little institutional energy or affect throughout the royal household.

Muqrin was changed just a few months later by Mohammed bin Nayef, one of many sons of Prince Nayef, who had inherited management of the inside ministry and the safety forces from his late father.

In flip, Mohammed bin Nayef was changed as crown prince by the king’s personal son, Mohammed bin Salman, in 2017.

Mohammed bin Salman had already turn out to be protection minister, thereby ending the management that Sultan’s household had beforehand exercised over the armed forces.

With the removing of Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince and inside minister, the Nayef household’s management of the inside ministry was additionally successfully ended.

The final remaining “energy ministry” was the National Guard, the place management had been inherited by King Abdullah’s son Prince Miteb.

So the choice this weekend to take away Prince Miteb has eradicated the final remaining unbiased energy base throughout the royal household.

For the primary time, all three energy ministries (protection, inside and National Guard) are underneath the direct management of 1 department of the royal household.

Personnel modifications for lower-ranked cupboard positions, sub-cabinet posts and provincial governors over the past three years have all eliminated unbiased energy brokers and bolstered the focus of energy.

Control over all parts of the state has steadily consolidated energy within the arms of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


Saudi Arabia’s inside energy dynamics are additionally altering in different essential methods.

The cardinal rule has at all times been that disputes are settled quietly throughout the royal household, with out the involvement of outsiders.

Princes have been anticipated to indicate loyalty to the king and keep away from overt requires change within the system. In change, their private safety and wealth have been revered.

Ostentatious shows of wealth have been discouraged and sometimes censured, however for probably the most half, princes have been free to build up cash and enterprise pursuits.

But in a basic breach with previous apply, King Salman and his son have launched an anti-corruption marketing campaign and arrested ministers and officers…

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