Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud chats with his son and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Picture: REUTERS
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud chats with his son and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Picture: REUTERS

Riyadh — Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud dismissed the commander of Saudi-led forces in Yemen and several other defence ministry employees on suspicion of corruption amid an ongoing political crackdown.

Lt-Gen Prince Fahad bin Turki, a grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founding King Abdulaziz, was ordered to retire, according to a royal order published on Tuesday by the official Saudi Press Agency. His son, Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahad bin Turki, was also removed from his post as deputy governor of the northern region of Al-Jawf.

They and other dismissed defence ministry officials were placed under investigation after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who leads the ministry, noticed “suspicious financial transactions,” the order said, without providing details.

The announcement is likely to fuel speculation about potential trouble at the ministry and in the royal family, a sprawling clan of thousands of princes divided between supporters and private critics of Prince Mohammed. Since his swift rise to power several years ago, the 35-year-old son of King Salman has led a major social and economic transformation alongside a political crackdown, including a controversial anti-corruption campaign in which hundreds of the kingdom’s richest men were detained in 2017.

Supporters called the anti-graft campaign long overdue in a country where corruption and nepotism are rife. Critics said the prince sometimes used corruption allegations to settle political scores and neutralise potential opponents.

Prince Fahad was replaced by Lt-Gen Mutlaq bin Salim al-Azema’a.

Fahad had led the kingdom’s military campaign in Yemen since 2018. The war, originally conceived as a quick way to put down a rebellion by Iran-aligned Houthis, is in its sixth year and has devolved into one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

In a statement on Twitter, Muhammad Ali Al-Houthi, a member of the Houthi ruling political council, said the commander’s dismissal “is good, if it will stop the war.”

Bloomberg

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