Saturday, November 21, 2020 – 02:10
Two of the main princes of Saudi Arabia, uncle and nephew, have been ‘missing’ since March. A committee of the British Parliament investigates the case while Riyadh organizes the G20 summit.
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For decades, members of the vast Saudi royal family were distinguished. They were respected and heard in court. Prince Ahmed bin Abdelaziz (78) is the brother of the current King Salman (84) and was for years in the pools of the aspirants to the throne. His nephew, Mohamed bin Nayef (61), on the other hand, became crown prince until three years ago, in a calculated palace coup, was replaced by Salman’s son, thirty-something Mohamed bin Salman. The traces of both faded in March, when they were arrested and accused of plotting a conspiracy to overthrow Salman and thwart the succession of his offspring. Since then, little news of his whereabouts has emerged.
Saudi Arabia is presiding over a G-20 summit this weekend that the coronavirus crisis has stripped the glamor of face-to-face meetings between the world’s main leaders and turned into a telematic meeting. Circumstances that detract from an appointment in which Riyadh hoped to deploy its golden public relations campaign. “For the Saudi authorities the G20 summit is critical: now is the time to promote your reform agenda to the world and show that your country is open for business. Meanwhile, the true reformists are behind bars, “says Lynn Maalouf, deputy regional director of Amnesty International.
Princes Ahmed and Mohamed, once happy attendees of international ceremonies and events, will experience the summit that should catapult Saudi Arabia from absolute ostracism, away from the luxurious lives and journeys they once led. As if the earth had literally swallowed them up. According to their lawyers, the location where they are is unknown. Their immediate families have not seen them since March and they have not even been allowed to see their personal doctors. “They don’t know where he is being held. All phone conversations are very superficial. The situation is quite serious “, have related from anonymity the legal team of Prince Mohamed to the Financial Times. “No one can see him but neither prince has been officially charged.” In the case of Mohamed, his wife and two daughters have also paid the price and are prohibited from leaving the country.
Since March the lies have slipped that their fall from grace is due to the fact that both were Mohamed bin Salman’s strongest rivals and shared “an accumulation of misconduct”, including an alleged act of felony. Since that date they have starred in an existence in limbo that, marked by mysteries, shows the wounds that the rapid rise of Bin Salman, the de facto leader of the kingdom, has opened within the royal family. “What price has anyone’s life in Saudi Arabia if the former heir and seventh son of the founder of Saudi Arabia and his wife Massa bint Ahmed al Sudaria Are they arrested and unaccounted for? “ wonders Crispin Blunt, the British MP who heads the committee of Parliament that investigates the situation of the princes.
This week, in a working session with Saudi activists, the committee has again sought answers to the uncertainty surrounding Ahmed and Mohamed. “The details around the arrests are quite opaque. It appears that they were accused of preparing a coup against Bin Salman or of corruption,” said Adam Coogle, deputy director of Human Rights Watch in the Middle East. “The conditions in which they find themselves are also uncertain. Their communication with the outside world is monitored and limited. The little contact they have with their families seeks to produce evidence against them,” he adds.
In its narrowest circles, the health of the once crown prince, who survived a suicide bomber attack in 2009, is of particular concern. The jihadist had assured him by letter that he was ready to surrender. His private plane picked him up and drove him home. There, the kamikaze, with the explosives hidden in the anus, jumped into the air. Since then, Mohamed has had fragments of shrapnel lodged in his body and he needs morphine for pain.
His uncle Ahmed had long been a loose verse from the kingdom. In 2012 he was briefly Minister of the Interior. In 2018 he went into exile in London. In September of that year, before an escrache of activists for the war in Yemen, Ahmed went to the jugular: “We have nothing to do with what is happening [en Yemen]. Some leaders are responsible. Don’t blame the whole family. “The answer exposed dissent in the royal family. The prince returned home at the end of 2018, after receiving assurances from the United States and the United Kingdom that he would remain safe. seven years, no one would have imagined this ending for any of them. At that time, Mohamed bin Nayef was the one who arrested and persecuted opponents. The transition from executioner to victim is a lesson for everyone, “concludes Coogle.
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