Blood-rusted Sword: Elite force of Saudi crown prince

Violet Powell
January 9, 2018

Saudi authorities have arrested 11 princes for holding a protest at a royal palace in the capital Riyadh.

The arrests were the latest sign of tensions within the Saudi royal family as the kingdom's young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, assumes an increasingly dominant role in the country's affairs.

All 11 princes, who were not identified in the media reports, were arrested after they refused to leave the premises and were brought to the al-Hair maximum-security prison awaiting trial because, the sources told the website, everyone is equal before the law.

Sabq said the guards who arrested the princes were from a unit comprising more than 5,000 members linked to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is leading a campaign of reforms that involved rounding up more than 200 senior officials, including some royal family member, suspected of corruption.

Online news website sabq.org said the princes had gathered at the Qasr a-Hokm, a historic royal palace, demanding the cancellation of a royal decree that stopped state payment of water and electricity bills for royal family members, Reuters reported.

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Saudi Arabia will slow plans to eliminate subsidies for a wide range of energy products, according to a new long-term fiscal plan in the 2018 state budget.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has been overseeing anti-corruption, austerity and social reforms programs since late a year ago, which included giving women the right to drive automobiles.

The Saudi royal family is thought to number thousands, but the wealth and status between them can vary wildly. Income remains tax exempt.

Saudi King Salman on January 6 ordered extra pay for government workers and soldiers this year.

The unemployment rate among Saudis aged 15 to 24 stood at 32.6 percent past year, according to the International Labor Organization.

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