Jessilyn Dagum, Staff Writer
King Salam of Saudi Arabia and his son led the unprecedented arrests of their own family. What many are calling a “purge” and a “coup d’état” of Saudi Arabia’s leaders, is believed to be caused by the heir to the thrown, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The
Crown Prince has had a mediocre rise to power since his father appointed him to be Defense Minister of the country in 2015. Since then, he has vowed to “modernize the ultra-conservative tribal society.” His efforts to achieve this are the hostile takeover of many powerful positions in the government including major economic, political, security, and royal court portfolios.
The Crown Prince’s purge targeted both royals and non-royals who controlled money, the media, and the military.
“Among the dozens arrested were eleven senior princes, several current or former ministers, the owners of three major television stations, the head of the most important military branch, and one of the wealthiest men in the world, who has been a major shareholder in Citibank, Twentieth Century Fox, Apple, Twitter, and Lyft,” The New Yorker reports. The father-son-duo justifies their actions as part of their Anti-Corruption Commission, but many believe that their real agenda is to consolidate M.B.S’s —as the King’s third son is commonly known, by his initials—power. Traditionally, the monarchy has been passed down the line from brother to brother with consent of other brethren since the time of Ibn Saud, the first king, who founded modern Saudi Arabia. M.B.S has changed this for the first time in history.
The Trump Administration has supported the changes and refinement of the kingdom –as well as the royal family since the Crown Prince’s actions began. In a statement from the White House President Donald Trump had a conversation with the King just hours before the purge in which he commended the King and his son for taking a stance for, “the need to build a moderate, peaceful, and tolerant region,” which is “essential to ensuring a hopeful future for the Saudi people, to curtailing terrorist funding, and to defeating radical ideology—once and for all—so the world can be safe from its evil.” Trump also stated that he is personally trying to convince the kingdom to list the first offering of shares in Aramco, one of the world’s most important oil companies, on the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq. What President Trump did not mention is the risk involved in listing the shares in the U.S. This risk includes the prospect that any Saudi assets in the United States could be seized as a result of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) passed by Congress in 2016. The act allowed the families of 9/11 victims to pursue a civil suit against Saudi Arabia for alleged involvement in the plot. Meaning, if there were a verdict against the kingdom, the law would also allow a judge to freeze the kingdom’s assets in the United States to pay for any penalties that the court awards. Meaning Saudi Arabia would be extremely vulnerable if it were listed anywhere near the New York Stock Exchange.
During the 2016 election, President Trump supported the JASTA bill and condemned President Obama for vetoing it. “Obama’s veto of the Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act is shameful and will go down as one of the low points of his Presidency,” he remarked. Now, with
Saudi Arabia in mind, Trump is critical of the bill.