Fighting Corruption in Saudi Arabia Led by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman
Table of Contents
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- Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman
- Fight Against Corruption
- The 2017 Purge
- The Worldview of the Decision of the Prince
- The Objective of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman
- Comparison between Rates of Corruption in Saudi with Other Countries
- What Is Expected to Happen after This Decision?
- Related Free Politics Essays
The key to Saudi Arabia’s development is its fight against corruption. It is the key driver of every country’s development and an important part of the vision 2030, the motivated reform plan developed and directed by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Taking into account the origin of Saudi Arabia, the speed of change that has been witnessed in the country is highly commendable and has a number of amazing outcomes (Vogl, 2015). Prince Salman has come up with a dynamic and valuable vision that will see to it that the kingdom undergoes a speedy process of reformation and change for the better course. The vision of Prince Salman in regard to the Saudi people is quite comprehensive and it is limited not only to the fight against corruption. Nonetheless, the other factors are interrelated with the issue of corruption since their manifestation greatly relies on putting an end to the latter. Among the other factors are economic empowerment, quality healthcare and social welfare. All these factors will be highlighted and discussed in the paper below.
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Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman
Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud is the youngest Minister of Defence worldwide and the first known Saudi Arabian assistant Prime Minister. In addition, he is the president of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and is said to be the thriving force behind his father’s throne from time to time (Bowen, 2014). He has been advocating for women’s rights, and return to moderate Islam, which is just among the numerous social, economic and religious plans he has in regard to his country’s welfare at large, earning himself the title of a reformist.
The prince who is the first born of four children graduated from college and after a few years, became the personal assistant of his father the king working as a consultant for the exerts commission for the Saudi cabinet. When his father was the governor of Riyadh province, the prince was initiated into politics as a special advisor to his father, and since then he began to develop in his political career. Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz who was the ruler at that time passed on in October 2011, and Prince Salman’s father started his rise to power, despite his initial position being that of the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence. It was at that point that the prince was initiated as the king’s personal advisor. The prince ranked second in the chain of command after the death of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud in June, 2012. Apparently, the father became the crown prince. His cousin Muhammad bin Nayef was later made the governor of the Eastern Province and therefore Prince Mohammad bin Salman became his successor (Lippman, & Council on Foreign Relations, 2012). This was the time when the prince was appointed as the Minister that later led to him becoming the State Minister. When his father obtained the rank of king, the prince was granted the docket of Minister of Defence and was also appointed as the Secretary General of the Royal Court on that very day.
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After being appointed as the Minister of Defence, there arose civil turmoil in Yemen where the mutinous Houthis community captured the northern Yemen, an issue that forced the President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and his executive to step aside (House & Al, 2012). It was a challenging time for the just appointed Minister, and the first thing he did to resolve the political problem was gathering a pan-GCC coalition to quell the crisis and enforce a naval blockade after a series of suicide bombings through air strikes against the Houthis had been witnessed in Sanaa. This move became effective in March 2015 when countries formed a coalition and allied themselves against the rebels; the prince maintained precautionary management across the security services and controled his operations from the Maldives. Following his political operations and subsequent interventions, he was named the architect of the war in Yemen by The Economist, a title that he denied saying that the decision was made not only by him but by several other parties and that the crisis had been mitigated even before he was appointed the Minister of Defence (Bahramitash, &Esfahani, 2015).On the day he was appointed crown prince, the US President Donald Trump reached out to him to build closer ties so that the two could help each other on the issues related to security and economies of their respective states. The two rulers discussed the essence of cutting off support for terrorism and secure peace between Palestinians and Israel.
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Fight Against Corruption
After his appointment as the crown prince, Salman was given power over Saudi Aramco, and he started off by restructuring the economy of his country the day he announced to the public his vision 2030 initiative, which acted as the country’s strategic direction for the following 15 years. This initiative’s goal is to reform the economy of the country to a more diversified and private structure providing a list of measures and goals in several fields such as making the e-government private and developing the non-oil revenues (Burton, 2016). He had plans to restore the dominance that the kingdom had in the global oil markets by reducing the price of oil to as low as possible to make new competitors go bankrupt. However, his plan did not work, as in 2016 Saudi Arabia had to accept defeat by completely cutting its productivity on the global oil market.
During April, 2016, new levies were adopted in the form of the initiation of a $2 trillion sovereign fund for Saudi Arabia, as well as the development of a diversification plan and implementation of the strategic economic reforms referred to as National Transformation Programme. Despite his arrangement that caused him to be dubbed a mess prince, Salman has the objectives of raising capital for the sovereign fund after disposing off shares of the Saudi Aramco and spending the money on other areas. Later on, he froze all the contracts possessed by the government, reduced the state budget and slashed civil employee salaries as a part of dire severity measures. One of his reforms in fighting for women rights was to ensure the lifting of Theban on female drivers, which happened in September 2017 (Cook, 2017). Corruption has long been a way of life in Saudi Arabia, and King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz who died in 2015 tried to fight this challenge but was not as successful as Prince Mohammed bin Salman might become. This problem has been faced by the country for decades especially through the shakedown vulture that the royal family and other social elites observed.
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The 2017 Purge
In May 2017, Prince Mohammad bin Salman gave a public warning to those involved in corruption activities that they will suffer the consequences regardless of their social and political statuses and positions. A renowned prince of Saudi and Al-Waleed bin Talal were put under police custody in November 2017 together with the governing executives. In addition, 40 princes were summoned by the order of the crown prince on allegations of money laundering along with corruption (Riedel, 2015).
The Worldview of the Decision of the Prince
Although this move by the prince faced severe criticism from analysts who saw it as a way of him grabbing power, he claimed that arrests were made just a few hours after the king had decreed for the formation of a new anti-corruption committee in which the prince was appointed as the chairperson. Different opinions were expressed concerning the recent arrests of high profile princes, officials and businesspersons by the crown prince. Other people claim that this entire round up is just a façade aimed at getting rid of those powerful individuals that the prince sees as rivals.
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Others see the purge as a move towards reformation, and this move received mixed reactions where the Saudi Arabia’s youths see it as a necessary measure while the old guard who is more comfortable with the traditions of the kingdom of rule by consensus and incremental change has the opposite views. A CBC analyst claims the fight against corruption echoes with the perception of ordinary Saudis who feel that it is a time the state put an end to corruption activities and accumulation of wealth by the power elite. One of the people who support this reform is the former British ambassador to Riyadh who says that the princes are the first ever in the modern history of Saudi Arabia to form a constituency that is not related to the royal family but rather comprise younger Saudis (Vogl, 2015). The former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia also said that it is the right move considering that the country has been suffering corruption for a very long time where the royal family grabbed property. Another supporter of the prince is Donald Trump who expressed his confidence in the king and crown prince in the social media, saying that they know whatever they are doing. Saudis on social media have also expressed their support to the move as a substantial step that will ensure greater transparency in the kingdom. The 32-year-old young prince is undoubtedly a source of inspiration to the young people with two-thirds of the country’s population being under 30; he is a sign of social liberty to many of the local citizens.
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The Objective of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman
The influence of the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has been strengthened since the time of his appointment. In addition to being the heir and the Head of the Ministry of Defence, the Council of Economics, the new anti-corruption body and Development Affairs, the Presidency of State Security that has been formed recently saw the transfer of countless important tasks that were previously under the influence of the Ministry of Interior into a new body governed by the king (Bowen, 2014).In addition, he has already helped direct numerous controversial and influential policies ranging from the blockade of Qatar to the conflict in Yemen together with the aspiring economic plan Saudi Vision 2030. A number of factors show that the prince is not aiming to consolidate power or get rid of his rivals. He is not striving for apprehending individuals like the previous CEOs and King Salman selected former Minister of Economy and Planning Adel Faqih since these individuals do not present any risk to the kingdom. His first move was to arrest the senior figures, therefore sending a public message that he was serious. If he targeted only the lower-level officials, he would have been accused of a desire to impact an insincere reform.
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Comparison between Rates of Corruption in Saudi with Other Countries
Very few people would argue with the point that corruption is a problem in Saudi Arabia that is closely associated with inadequate enforcement system especially involving the royal family members who use impervious means of obtaining wealth and power. The degree of corruption in Saudi Arabia requires an anti-corruption campaign that will not only aim at putting an end to the activities of a restricted number of individuals, but more than that, the prince has to start from somewhere and he definitely pursues the goal of a maximising the impact associated with minimum risks.
According to an index of the 2016 corruption perceptions reported by Transparency International, Saudi Arabia ranks as the 62nd least corrupted countries among the 175 states (Bowen, 2014). This index usually ranks nations and territories on the basis of the levels of corruption in their public sectors. Such issues as the abuse of power, nepotism and the use of intermediaries to conduct business activities contribute to the high levels of corruption in the country. There is a connection between politics and business where business is largely based on investment systems with the royal family and the social elites carrying the biggest influence on the petrochemical and oil sectors of the economy (House, & Al, 2012). Prince Salman has seen to it that there is an increasing number of public officers in Saudi Arabia who are being arrested for bribery charges; something that has led to a decrease in the rate of administrative corruptions.
Recent news from the investigators where the prince is the head of the operations indicates that more people have been arrested by the Saudi authorities adding up to 201 people in an operation that according to the reports has uncovered almost $100 billion misused through embezzlement and corruption. Among those 40 princes held in custody for questioning are the two sons of the late King Abdullah and Prince Miteb who was initially the head of a powerful national guard until he was arrested. Approximately 1,700 bank accounts of a number of people have been frozen and subjected to investigation (Burton, 2016). Some of those people arrested worked as ministers under the rule of King Salman; a fact that raises contradictory questions as for whether the king was aware of such corrupt operations taking place under his nose and if so, why he did not take any action at that time.
What Is Expected to Happen after This Decision?
The suppression of the elites of the kingdom might bring about a ramification leading to a political crisis in the region that is already volatile. This purge has acted as a wakeup call for most businesspeople conducting their businesses in the Arabic oil production market. Foreign investors are guided by a few reasons to remain hesitant as for whether to continue investing in Saudi Arabia or not, because all the assets accumulated through corruption will now become the state’s property (House & Al 2012). The prince pointed out that some wealthy individuals and the royal family were making inefficient spending that could account for one fourth of the budget annually, a real response to the levels of corruption will improve the business atmosphere and is likely to encourage long-term investments.
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Prince Alwaleed bin Talal who is among those detained is one of the topmost tech investors globally and a known billionaire; therefore, his arrest could cause significant repercussions. The surge is not just a family dispute but a significant shot that is very far from being over, affecting Saudi Arabia’s policy and the political future of the country as well (Burton, 2016). This new cohort of princes that includes prince Salman has started to generate indecision and stress within the Saudi Arabian power structure. There is a rising level of anxiety among top officials and this might lead to political instability and violence or even war. For the period of over half a century, these are the most volatile times in the Saudi Arabian history.
For several decades now, Saudi Arabia has been ruled by loose consensus among the extended royal family that had full power over several government agencies that acted as barriers against the attempts to reform the kingdom and reduce the levels of corruption and prejudice. It is now apparent that the prince is deadly serious in making sure that an anti-corrupt and transparent society is formed in the country. This serious anti-corruption move initiated by the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman should be realized not only for the sake of pursuing individuals or fighting corruption, but rather for the purpose of maintaining and establishing a new set of standards for transparency in all segments of the kingdom both socially, economically and politically.