Riyadh (GPA) – Saudi Arabia has been in chaos all weekend seeing purges of top officials, a Yemeni strike on the Riyadh airport and a helicopter crash killing several members of the royal family…but it doesn’t stop there.
Saudis Call Yemeni Missile “Act of War” by Iran
On Saturday Yemeni resistance forces fired a missile targeting the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. Western media claimed Saudis intercepted this rocket, despite evidence in the form of both video and flight data showing a successful strike and apparent delays in outgoing flights.
Regardless of where the ballistic missile actually landed, the Saudis decided to use the “attempted strike” as an excuse to further peddle the flimsy lie of a connection between the Yemeni resistance and Tehran. This accusation is just the latest as part of a recent pattern that has seen Saudi Arabia increasingly blaming Iran for every event Riyadh sees as a negative in the region.
Despite offering no evidence (as usual), the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen released a statement earlier today calling the missile strike on Riyadh an “act of war” by Iran. The statement went on to accuse Tehran of having “direct command of its Houthi proxy,” and that this “constitutes a clear act of aggression that targets neighboring countries, and threatens peace and security in the region and globally.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif short back at the Saudi statement later in the day saying Riyadh “bombs Yemen to smithereens, killing thousands of innocents including babies, spreads cholera and famine,” and that the kingdom is “engaged in wars of aggression, regional bullying, destabilizing behavior and risky provocations. It blames Iran for the consequences.”
Another Saudi Prince Dies in Mysterious Circumstances
Late Sunday a helicopter crashed near the Saudi-Yemeni border shortly after the arrests for “corruption” of officials in Riyadh, for reasons they still haven’t disclosed. One of the now dead passengers on the helicopter was Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, the deputy governor of Asir province, returning from an inspection tour of settlements in the area.
Following this news story was the revelation of another death of a Saudi royal, Prince Abdul Aziz, on Monday morning. Aziz, 44, was the youngest son of King Fahd, the monarch who preceded King Abdullah and then King Salman.
The Saudi Royal Court issued a statement mourning the prince but offered no cause of death. What we do know for sure is that Aziz was among those on Riyadh’s list of people arrested on Sunday.
Several reports claim that Aziz somehow died during the arrest process, although it’s not clear exactly how. Some outlets are claiming there was a shootout upon the police’s arrival to serve the warrant for Aziz.
Riyadh Issues Warrants for Their Own ‘Syrian Opposition’ Officials
It isn’t just Saudis being caught up in this latest wave of arrests. Another 2 men who had warrants issued for their arrest on Monday were Ahmed al-Jarba and Riad Hijab, two former members of the Syrian “opposition government” financed by the Gulf monarchies.
The two men are allegedly wanted on charges of “money laundering and smuggling.” Both Jarba and Hijab were formerly on the Saudi payroll. However, it now seems that they were encouraged by a separate faction of the Saudi foreign policy community, possibly led by the same officials arrested over the weekend to consolidate Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s (MBS) power as the next king of Saudi Arabia.
The move to arrest these two men, much like the resignation of Hariri, and the demonization of Iran, show that the Crown Prince is probably reformulating his strategy for Syria. Since the jihadist proxies unleashed by Riyadh have failed so miserably since the beginning of the war, it now seems MBS is shifting Saudi focus away from Syria and towards his actual target Iran.
Also published on Medium.