Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the 32-year-old crown prince of Saudi Arabia, led what could be the prelude to a coup within the Saudi royal family this weekend — and as MSNBC host Rachel Maddow noted, it’s been all but sanctioned by the Trump administration.
MBS, as he’s affectionately abbreviated, has “already been named the top economic adviser in the kingdom, the chief of the royal court in the kingdom, the defense minister of Saudi Arabia and officially the guy next in line to be king” in the two years since he was named crown prince. To do so, however, he had to “jump over a bunch of his cousins.”
This weekend, however, MBS shifted into overdrive and “Saudi Arabia and the royal court and the line of succession turned into an action movie.”
The first indication of something off came when Lebanese Prime Minister Said Hariri resigned — and did so from the Saudi capitol of Riyadh. The move, according to Maddow, is akin to President Donald Trump announcing his resignation in a press conference televised from Mexico.
“Hours after that super strange announcement, the crown prince, MBS, announced he was taking over the one part of the security forces that had not yet been brought under his control,” she continued. Soon after, the kingdom announced the crown prince would head up a new anti-corruption unit.
“The first act of this new previously unknown anti-corruption unit was to arrest and lock up 11 other princes, four currently serving ministers of the government and dozens of ex-ministers,” Maddow said. “They literally emptied out the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh and locked up all the princes there — indefinitely.”
The entire extended royal family (which, as the host notes, is quite extensive) have been banned from leaving Saudi Arabia, and private jets are being blocked at the country’s airports. But one of the more chilling (albeit potentially unrelated) pieces of news from the Saudi “purge” were reports that a former crown prince who was “not immediately available for arrest” was found dead in a mysterious helicopter accident near Yemen’s border.
Though “we really don’t know what all that is about,” Maddow claims that our government is “totally on board” with it — based in Trump and his son-in-law/adviser Jared Kushner’s actions immediately before and after the weekend’s events.
Last week, Kushner took an “unannounced, off-the-radar” trip to Saudi Arabia that was not revealed until he returned. According to The Washington Post, Kushner and MBS “stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy.”
The next day, Trump called Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, “and whatever happened in that conversation,” Maddow noted, “the White House gave a readout that made no mention that anything unusual at all was under way.”
“No mention of the arrests, no mention that the entire Saudi royal family was being grounded and a large portion of them were now being held against their will. No mention of that,” she said. “Just a statement of support from President Trump and an announcement that the call had taken place.”
Trump’s only follow-up, the host noted, came in a tweet on Monday, in which he further expressed his confidence in the Saudi royals at the helm of the weekend’s coup.
“I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing,” Trump tweeted. “Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”
Watch Maddow unwind the Trump’s connection to the Saudi royal purge below, via MSNBC.