Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan policy institute, recently appeared with Fox News correspondent Conor Powell to discuss Saudi Arabia’s recent corruption crackdown that has ensnared some of the most prominent figures in Saudi politics and society, including Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, Prince Fahd bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Saud, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, Prince Turki bin Abdullah and Prince Turki bin Nasser Al Saud.
Conor Powell: Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman tightened his grip on the kingdom this weekend, arresting dozens of senior Saudi royals and officials. The 32 year old heir told the Arab Channel, NBC, the purge was needed to stomp out corruption.
Mohammed bin Salman [Video]: Every person who has engaged in corruption, regardless of their status, will be held accountable.
Conor Powell: Among the dozens of princes, military officers and top officials arrested was Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men. Talal is a major player on Wall Street and an investor in Citibank, Apple and the parent company of FOX News 21st Century Fox. The arrest of so many senior Saudi officials has raised suspicions. The purge was not just about tackling corruption, but also removing potential adversaries as well.
Mark Dubowitz: He’s gone after people who can both undercut him politically and have the financial resources to create alternative power centers. I think he’s also sending a message that no one is beyond his reach.
Conor Powell: bin Salman has tried to craft a reputation as a reformer and the Trump administration counts him as a valuable ally, but to date, he is most known for managing Saudi Arabia’s disastrous war in Yemen and intensifying the regional conflict with Iran, which this weekend escalated even further after a missile landed near Riyadh’s airport. Saudi officials say it was fired by Yemen’s Iranian linked Houthi rebels.
Adel Al-Jubeir [Video]: We see this as an act of war. Iran cannot lob missiles at Saudi cities and towns and expect us not to take steps vis a vis Iran.
Conor Powell: Saudi officials describe this weekend’s arrest as “Phase 1” of their crackdown. Their promise to deliver evidence against those detained some time in the future. Brett?