ith the tacit support of President Trump, King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his powerful son launched an unprecedented purge of their own family over the weekend. The major targets were royal brethren who controlled money, the media, or the military. Among the dozens arrested were eleven senior princes, several current or former ministers, the owners of three major television stations, the head of the most important military branch, and one of the wealthiest men in the world, who has been a major shareholder in Citibank, Twentieth Century Fox, Apple, Twitter, and Lyft.
“It’s the equivalent of waking up to find Warren Buffett and the heads of ABC, CBS and NBC have been arrested,” a former U.S. official told me. “It has all the appearances of a coup d’état. Saudi Arabia is rapidly becoming another country. The kingdom has never been this unstable.”
The purge sent shockwaves of fear through the kingdom—one of the world’s two largest producers and exporters of oil—as well as the Middle East, global financial markets, and the international community. The arrests continued on Monday, with no indication when the crackdown might end.