The global community is reeling from a weekend full of arrests in Saudi Arabia. Prominent princes and ministers, including billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, were charged with a variety of bribery and money laundering charges and are currently under arrest in the Ritz-Carleton. Prince Alwaleed has publicly sparred with President Trump in the past and thus far the U.S. government has been silent about the arrests.
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman orchestrated the series of arrests as part of a declared anti-corruption effort. The fact that only competitors or enemies of Crown Prince Mohammed were targeted did not go unnoticed. In addition to the arrests, Crown Prince Mohammed has declared a recent missile from Yemen into Saudi Arabia an act of war by Iran and has possibly detained a minister from Lebanon.
This complicated geopolitical situation is escalating rapidly, without a clear end point. But it has also served to turn attention to the underlying problem of corruption in the oil-rich nation, which may have been driving away foreign investment. As Saudi Arabia prepares for an initial public offering for its state-owned oil company Aramco and as countries, including the U.S., compete for that business, this sudden burst of anti-corruption energy seems connected to the Arab state’s economic business.
What do you think? Is the weekend purge in Saudi Arabia actually a victory for anti-corruption efforts?
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