‘The Godfather, Saudi-style’: How MBS came to power: The Guardian
The Guardian tells the detailed story of how "Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef was all set to assume power. But his ambitious young cousin had a ruthless plan to seize control for himself."
In a lengthy article published on Tuesday, British newspaper The Guardian reported new details about the palace coup in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2017.
The article, based on some sources from inside the Kingdom, including personalities from senior members of the royal family and other well-connected sources who have been stripped of their influence and wealth, such as the former Saudi security advisor Saad Al-Jabri, mentions the details of Mohammed bin Salman’s plot to overthrow his older cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef to become deputy crown prince and gain the loyalty of the rest of the family.
The newspaper tells that Muhammad bin Salman detained Muhammad bin Nayef all night in a palace near Mecca, and his personal bodyguards, "who tailed him everywhere, were missing."
When Bin Nayef wanted to leave, he took his car and sent his most trusted adviser, who had left the kingdom weeks before, a text message saying "Be very careful! Don’t come back!”
When Nayef reached his own palace in Jeddah hours later, "he found new guards manning the property. It was obvious that he was being put under house arrest," the newspaper wrote.
Writer Anuj Chopra tells that the night before this incident, Nayef, the king’s nephew, "had been forced to step down as heir to the Saudi throne" in an episode that one royal insider described to him [the writer] as “Godfather, Saudi-style”. Nayef, who oversaw domestic security, was the CIA’s closest Saudi ally.
Shortly before the palace coup, on 5 June 2017, the writer added, "tensions between the princes reached boiling point after MBS and other regional autocrats imposed a punishing blockade on neighboring Qatar."
The Guardian also noted that "Nayef, too, had issues with Qatar, but he preferred quiet diplomacy over MBS’s combative approach. Behind his cousin’s back, Nayef opened a secret channel with Qatar’s ruler Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani."
Amid that crisis, on 20 June 2017, Nayef was called for a meeting in King Salman’s palace in Mecca. According to sources close to Nayef, "when he arrived, his security detail was instructed to wait outside. To prevent any leaks, all mobile phones, including those of the palace staff, were seized by guards loyal to MBS," The Guardian wrote.
The prince was allegedly ushered into a room with Turki al-Sheikh, a close MBS confidante, who "allegedly confined Nayef to the room for hours, pressuring him to sign a resignation letter and pledge allegiance to MBS."
The palace coup and the power plays that led to it, "were largely obscured from public view at the time, with only scraps of information – and dollops of propaganda – leaking out to the press," the newspaper wrote, noting that "a detailed account of the events of 2017, and its shocking aftermath, is now possible, thanks to a drip-feed of palace secrets by a few senior royals."
NBC: "Mohammed Bin Nayef Was Beaten & Biden Stepped in to Rescue Him"
The network, quoting two sources, stated that Muhammad bin Nayef was beaten to the point of becoming unable to walk unassisted, noting that painkillers had been withheld from him by the Saudi authorities after suffering from previous injuries.
NBC also reported that the administration of US President Joe Biden "is under increasing pressure to help a former Saudi intelligence chief credited with saving American lives who was initially detained by the Saudi government during the Trump administration."