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In a story as old as monarchy itself, Saudi King Salman is clearing the way for his chosen successor. The king’s favorite son and closest advisor, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been given more and more royal duties through which he has advanced many economic and policy reforms. He’s trying to modernize the nation’s nearly medieval mindset, opening it to freer markets, religious tolerance, and even to the state of Israel.
On Saturday, the king sacked the powerful head of the Saudi national guard, who had opposed Crown Prince Mohammed. Salman then created a powerful new anticorruption committee and placed the crown prince in charge. Within hours, the committee arrested a slew of his opponents, some of the wealthiest men in Saudi Arabia.
Eleven princes, four sitting ministers, and “tens” of former ministers were taken into custody, the most prominent of which is billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal. Anyone with an even cursory understanding of history has seen this happen almost every time an aging monarch prepares to hand the crown to a successor.