It’s been 27 days that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has not appeared in public after heavy gun attack was reported from outside of the royal palace in the kingdom’s capital city of Riyadh, and more suspiciously is the fact that Saudi official websites have not released any new photo of bin Salman for several past weeks. The long disappearance has raised speculation about the fate of the crown prince.
According to some sources the attack on April 21 was part of a coup led by Saudi royals who are opposed to king Salman, while other reports spread a different story that the shooting occurred when the palace guards targeted a small drone which came too close to Salman’s residence. Saudi activists said that the shooting had nothing to do with the drone, claiming it was an attack from vehicles carrying heavy machine guns and shooting randomly.
On 21 April Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry reported that four policemen were killed after gunmen attacked a security checkpoint in the southwestern province of Asir, which borders Yemen. A ministry statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency also reported two of the three gunmen arrested following the attack, which took place shortly after midnight on Thursday. “Three policemen were killed in the attack itself while the fourth died after police clashed with the third gunman, who was also killed.The exchange of fire with the third gunman also left four policemen wounded.” The statement added.
Last November, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman vowed to “pursue terrorists until they are wiped from the face of the earth” as he presided over the first meeting of an Islamic counter-terrorism alliance involving around 40 Muslim countries. But few months later he himself has been target to terrorist attack. The irony, however, is that no Saudi official is willing to give any specific details about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his current staying. This, along with his not having appeared in public have given rise to speculations that maybe the Prince is hiding himself from potential terrorist attacks upcoming or some even question his wellbeing and weather he has survived the April attack or not!
MbS is the driving force behind Vision 2030, the kingdom’s long-term economic plan to wean itself off dependence on oil, and has helped write a raft of socially liberal royal decrees allowing women to drive, reining in the notorious religious police and reopening cinemas. The Prince has also promised a return to a more “moderate” Islam since he genuinely seems to believe the country has been stuck in its old conservative ways for too long. The House of Saud’s designated successor has also always been attempting to portray the little Prince as a “reformer” and an advocate of women’s rights, yet the problem besides the uncertainty over his idealistic plans, if not illusions, is that he is nowhere to be found!