Iranian state-run media suggested this weekend, citing an anti-Riyadh activist, that Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) was shot when heavy gunfire reportedly broke outside his family’s royal palace last month.
On the evening of April 21, a small drone reportedly triggered gunfire in the vicinity of the royal palace when it entered an off-limits zone. According to Russian state outlet RT, “Palace guards targeted a rogue drone which came too close to the king’s residence, some feared a terrorist attack or even an unfolding ‘coup.'”
— غانم الدوسري (@GhanemAlmasarir) April 21, 2018
Iran’s state-run Press TV added to these reports that “Mohammed al-Mas’ari, the secretary-general of the Islamic Revival Party, citing reliable sources, said in a recent interview with Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV that bin Salman was hit by bullets during the late April attack.” Al-Mas’ari, PressTV claimed, said the crown prince soon plans to appear before international media to deny reports of a coup.
Al-Massari is a Saudi Arabian dissident and Saudi opposition figure who is exiled from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He is a member of the Party for Islamic Renewal (PIR), which states that it “rejects intellectual terror, supports the freedom of thought and believes in dialogue based on argument and evidence.” The “Islamic Revival Party” is an unrelated Tajik group; there is no evidence Al-Massari is a member.
No media outlets unrelated to Iran have reported that MBS was shot. The Iranian regime has reported dubious and false claims in the past related to Saudi Arabia, most notably a PressTV report claiming that Saudi King Salman financed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 reelection campaign.
Press TV suggested the shooting at the palace was in response to MBS’s “self-promoting campaign at home, which saw hundreds of royals and businessmen detained and tortured. Most of them were later released after reaching financial settlement deals with the kingdom.”
The anti-Saudi publication then went on to suggest that MBS carried out the arrests in the kingdom to eradicate any challenges to his power, writing, “Perhaps the strangest thing about this uprising against the wealthy and the powerful, though, is that it is coming from above, from a 32-year-old who is rebelling against his own class in the hopes of ultimately being the last man standing.”
Press TV then took a jab at MBS for “warming” relations with Israel and suggested the Saudi crown prince has taken an “anti-Palestinian stance,” which “has in [sic] several occasions offended the Muslim world.”
Another Iranian state-run publication, the newspaper Kayhan – not to be confused with the pro-Western, anti-Iranian regime publication with the same name in London, England – claimed “at least two bullets have hit bin Salman in April 21 clashes in Riyadh and it is even possible that he is dead.”
To quell suspicions, the Saudi Royal family released a photograph of MBS chairing a meeting of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs.
“Credible” Saudi sources reportedly “confirmed” to the Daily Pakistan Global that MBS was safe and spending the Ramadan holiday in Egypt with his family on special invitation from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. They reportedly added that leaders of Abu Dhabi and Bahrain were also present with MBS in Egypt.
MBS was on a world tour shortly before the April 21 incident occurred and an ongoing proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Yemen has intensified in recent months, and particularly since bin Salman developed a larger role in running the defense of the nation.
Press TV added in its article on the shooting rumors that “the deadly Saudi campaign against Yemen has damaged bin Salman’s image both internationally and regionally.”
MBS urged the United States to back out of the Iran nuclear deal during his visit to the country last month, asserting that Riyadh will pursue nuclear weapons development if Iran possesses a nuclear bomb. During that same interview with CBS where he made that statement, MBS reiterated his belief that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is “very much like Hitler.”