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Saudi prince returns home amid Khashoggi crisis, maybe power shift

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saudi
A
senior Saudi prince, who previously appeared to criticize the
kingdom’s crown prince, has returned home. Here, a meeting
between Ethiopian and Saudi leaders, and UN Secretary General
Antonio Guterres (right) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, September
2018.

Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom
Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty
Images


  • A senior member of the Saudi royal family returned to
    Saudi Arabia as the crisis over Jamal Khashoggi’s death
    continues to boil.
  • Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi king’s only
    surviving full brother, was previously afraid to return to
    Riyadh for fear of getting swept up in the crown prince’s
    corruption sweep, according to The New York Times.
  • Prince Ahmed made comments appearing critical of Crown
    Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the past.
  • It’s not clear if Prince Ahmed’s return signals
    shifting power within the royal family in the face of crisis,
    or if the crown prince is taking further steps to reinforce his
    tight grip on power.

A senior member of the Saudi royal family has returned to Saudi
Arabia as the crisis over Jamal Khashoggi’s death continues to
boil, indicating a power shift in the country’s leadership.

Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz returned to Riyadh from London on
Tuesday,
The New York Times reported
, citing three unnamed Saudi
sources close to the prince.

Prince Ahmed is the only surviving full brother of King Salman,
and is seen as an influential figure within the kingdom’s royal
family.

The prince had been afraid to return home because he was afraid
he would get swept up in the crown prince’s corruption sweep, The
Times reported.


saudi prince ahmed bin abdulaziz
Crown
Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, here in London in September 2018, has
appeared to criticized his nephew Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman in the past.

sattam_al_saud/Twitter

Prince Ahmed had made comments that appeared critical
of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of
the Gulf kingdom, The Times said, citing associates of Prince
Ahmed’s family.

Last month, he appeared to blame King Salman and Crown Prince
Mohammed for Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the Yemen civil war,
which has killed tens of thousands of civilians.

He was caught on video telling protesters in London last month,

according to Bloomberg
: “What does this have to do with
the [house of] Al Saud? Those responsible are the king and his
Crown Prince.”

“I hope the situation ends,” he added, “whether in Yemen or
elsewhere, today before tomorrow.”

His controversial statement stirred rumors of a rift among the
royal house, though he later claimed his comments were
misinterpreted. 

See the video below.

Power shift in the House of Saud?

It’s unclear if Prince Ahmed’s return signals shifting power
within the royal family in the face of crisis, or if the Crown
Prince might be taking a step to reinforce his power.

But his homecoming was not widely covered in Saudi media, which
shrouded his visit in secrecy and added to speculation that his
return could be part of a wider response to international
criticism over Jamal Khashoggi’s death. 

Khashoggi, a Saudi critic and journalist, died inside the
kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Riyadh admitted
that the journalist died as part of a preplanned murder, but
stopped short of naming the person or people who ordered the job.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is
widely believed to have orchestrated the murder
, though
Riyadh has repeatedly tried to distance him from it.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
said
 on Tuesday that his chief prosecutor asked Saudi
investigators to reveal who ordered Khashoggi’s killing.

Erdogan also claimed people behind Khashoggi killing
are being protected from prosecution
, seen as a suggestion
that a senior figure, perhaps the crown prince himself, had
signed off on the murder.

“There is no point in procrastinating or trying to save some
people from under this,” he said. 


Read more: 
Here’s
everything we know about the troubling disappearance and death of
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi


mohammed bin salman
Crown
Prince Mohammed in September 2017.

Nicolas Asfouri – Pool/Getty Images

According to the Times, Prince Ahmed — who previously served as
deputy interior minister and then as interior minister in 2012 —
had been living in retirement, and awaited assurances that he
would not be implicated in the crown prince’s anti-corruption
sweep.

The anti-corruption campaign
targeted dozens of influential figures and members of the Saudi
royal family
perceived as potential threats to the Saudi
throne.

Last year the kingdom arrested 11 princes arrested 11
princes as well as government ministers and wealthy businessmen,
and held them in the luxury Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh.

Officials reportedly used coercion and physical abuse to extract
billions of dollars from some of the detainees.

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