02 Sep 2020
AP – Saudi Arabia’s top military commander in its yearslong war in Yemen and his prince son have been removed from their posts along with other officials as part of an anti-corruption investigation, the kingdom said early Tuesday.
The announcement attributed the actions to a referral by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 35-year-old son of King Salman who earlier carried out mass arrests as part of a similar anti-corruption drive that also targeted potential rivals to his rule.
A statement on the state-run Saudi Press Agency referred to “suspicious financial dealings monitored at the Ministry of Defense,” without elaborating.
As a result, the statement said the kingdom fired Lt. Gen. Fahad bin Turki bin Abdulaziz, a prince in Saudi Arabia’s large ruling family in charge of allied forces in the Saudi-led war in Yemen against the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels there.
Authorities also removed his son, Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahad bin Turki, from his position as the deputy governor of Saudi Arabia’s al-Jouf region in the kingdom’s northwest.
The kingdom is investigating four other officials as well, all on the orders of 84-year-old King Salman, the statement said. It wasn’t immediately clear if those accused had been detained or if they had lawyers.
Anti-corruption officials “shall complete the investigation procedures with all relevant military and civil officials, take the necessary legal measures against them and submit the outcomes,” the statement said.
Lt. Gen. Fahad only took over the kingdom’s Yemen war in February 2018, years into the stalemate campaign that still sees the Houthis hold the capital, Sanaa. He previously served as a paratrooper and special forces commander, as well as oversaw the Royal Saudi Land Forces.
He took over the coalition as part of a mass restructuring of the Saudi military at the time.
The war in Yemen, which has killed over 100,000 people, displaced millions and shattered the Arab world’s poorest country, has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It began with Houthi rebels seizing Sanaa in September 2014, then marching south. Saudi Arabia and allied countries entered the conflict in March 2015, led by then-Prince Mohammed as the Saudi defense minister.
By Jon Gambrell, Associated Press, 1 September 2020
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