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Saudi Arabia Cracks Down on Dissenting Clerics Amid Rumors of Crown Prince’s Rise to Throne

Published: September 15, 2017
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Source: Zero Hedge

Saudi Arabia arrested a trio of prominent clerics last weekend, a sign that the kingdom may be preparing for the formal ascendance of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, who is a key decision-maker on the country’s domestic and international affairs but is technically subservient to his father, King Salman.

Salman al-Odah, Awad al-Qarni and Ali al-Omary were arrested with little explanation over the weekend, but activists suspect that their failure to follow MBS’s hawkish line on Qatar played a role in their imprisonment.

Human rights activists told the Wall Street Journal that al-Odah’s arrest came after he declined to come out in support of the Saudi government’s actions against Qatar.

On September 8, al-Odah tweeted a fairly banal message hoping for reconciliation between the kingdom and Qatar. “May God harmonize between their hearts for the good of their people,” he wrote:

 
Al-Odah, who has 14 million followers, has not tweeted since September 9, the day he was swept up with the others.

“The Qatar crisis, a tribal dispute with potential global implications, is a key reason. This ‘kerfuffle’ is now very serious.  MBS is showing that he can clean house in terms of those who may express sympathy to any opening of dialogue thru the new Saudi State Security Presidium,” Ted Karasik, a senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics who has spent years in the region, told The Intercept in an e-mail. “Importantly, the cleavage between Qatar and the ATQ is now directly impacting Saudi society- the arrests were across a broad swath of clerics, poets and television personalities,” Kerasik added, referring to the Anti-Terror Quartet, a name used to refer to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, the four countries that initiated the months-long blockade of Qatar. “Thus, some may say these arrests are a purge.”

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