Last month in Saudi Arabia, 11 princes along with a number of current and former government officials were arrested by a newly announced anti-corruption committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In recent interviews, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has confirmed that 208 people have been arrested, of which seven have been released, and $100 billion has been accounted for as stolen from the Saudi Treasury. He has also noted the government’s offer of leniency: Return the funds or risk full prosecution. The arrests have been described as unprecedented. Supporters of the crown prince are calling the move an overdue corruption purge, while critics see it as a consolidation power play. In fact, the developments are bigger than both readings.
Crown Prince Mohammed, who is also known as MBS, isn’t just trying to clean house or shore up his internal position. He’s attempting nothing less than the complete reboot of Saudi Arabia’s government and society. MBS has laid out the grand scale of his ambitions in his Saudi Vision 2030, a plan that broadly calls for Saudi Arabia to become a more forceful regional power that is economically diversified and a member of the trillion-dollar GDP club, while growing more socially tolerant, culturally creative and reconciled with the world. And he believes he needs full authority to pull off this audacious effort.