A report surfacing this week claims Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), 31, has blocked his father, King Salman, from seeing his mother for more than two years and has worked to keep them apart throughout his rise to power.
According to NBC News, U.S. officials claimed they believe the crown prince — who is hailed as a reformer and champion for women’s rights — has kept his mother sidelined because “she opposed his plans for a power grab that could divide the royal family and might use her influence with the king to prevent it. The officials said MBS placed his mother under house arrest at least for some time at a palace in Saudi Arabia, without the king’s knowledge.”
MBS reportedly often told his father that Princess Fahda bint Falah bin Sultan, King Salman’s third wife, was away for medical treatment.
NBC News reported, “The U.S. intelligence assessment of Prince Mohammed’s actions against his mother, which American officials said has long been concealed from both King Salman and the public, is an example of MBS’s willingness to remove any perceived impediment to solidifying his position as Saudi Arabia’s next king, the current and former officials said.”
A source close to the royal family reportedly told NBC that the prince and his mother had a falling out several years ago over her intention to empower her siblings. This, in turn, led MBS to take action “to avoid a dynamic that played out with a previous Saudi king in which the brothers of one of his wives became extremely powerful and wealthy.”
It reportedly first came to light that MBS was keeping his mother from his father during the Obama administration.
In November, MBS saw to the arrests of over 200 Saudi princes, officials, businessmen, and members of the royal family who are rivals in what the Saudi government insisted was a crackdown on corruption. The crown prince and President Donald Trump’s administration have developed a strong relationship. Shortly after news of the crackdown broke, Trump tweeted his support for MBS’s decision to clean up the kingdom:
I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2017
A senior White House official told NBC News of MBS, “We’ve all pinned our hopes on him.”
NBC reportedly reached out to the Saudi Embassy to speak with MBS’s mother. However, NBC claimed that the embassy “did not accept the offer to speak with the princess because the Saudi government would not allow NBC to disclose that one of its reporters had met with her or use any information she provided for this story under any conditions, including if she was granted anonymity to talk about sensitive matters as others in this story were.”