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Blood-rusted Sword: MbS 'using elite force' to detain rival princes

MbS is using elite units of the Royal Guard to detain rival royals [Twitter]

Date of publication: 7 January, 2018

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Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) is using an elite force from the National Guard to suppress dissent in the royal family, according to Saudi media reports.
Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MbS) is using an elite force of the Royal Guard to suppress dissent in the royal family, according to Saudi media reports.

On Thursday, 11 princes were arrested following a sit-in outside a palace in Riyadh against a government decision to stop paying the water and electricity bills of royals.

Saudi news sites Sabq and al-Marsad said the sensitive and rare arrests of the royals were carried out by al-Saif al-Ajrab brigade of the Royal Guard on the orders of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, who had formed the force upon taking the throne in 2015.

The brigade reportedly answers directly to Salman's son Mohammed, the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.
 

The brigade is made up of more than 5,000 personnel with various ranks who have taken part in advanced military courses, Sabq reported.

The force is named after the famous sword of the founder of the second Saudi state, Turki Bin Abdullah Bin Mohammad al-Saud. The name roughly translates as "the blade rusted by the blood of the slain".

There has been some speculation that the highly trained force is being used as MbS's 'private army' to carry out sensitive missions such as detaining powerful members of the royal family and businessmen in the kingdom.

MbS, who has ordered a purge of hundreds of rival royals and businessmen under corruption allegations, reportedly does not trust other law enforcement agencies who could be dominated by his competitors in the royal family.

In November last year, reports suggested MbS had used private security forces, including ex-Blackwater mercenaries, to detain the former crown prince Nayef bin Salman and subsequently other princes and businessmen, including his cousin Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, former National Guard chief; Prince al-Waleed bin Talal; and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri


Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly translated 'Ajrab' as rustless. This has now been corrected

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