Saudi Arabia officials on Sunday arrested [TIME report] dozens of individuals, including princes, military officers, influential businessmen and government ministers, as part of a wide ranging anti-corruption probe.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [BBC profile] has been the driving force behind the anti-corruption probe, living up to his promise to modernize the country. A royal decree stated [Al Jazerra report] that the arrests were made due to the “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to illicitly accrue money.”
Of those arrested, 11 are princes, which deviates from a longstanding policy in Saudi Arabia to settle royal family disputes internally. The crackdown also included one of the wealthiest men in the world, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Some critics have seen these arrests as an attempt to consolidate power.
This crackdown follows several other attempts by Saudi Arabia to modernize the country, which has constantly been subjected to criticism by human rights groups. In October the kingdom’s sports authority announced [JURIST report] that stadiums in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam will be prepared to admit “families” and women at the beginning of next year. In August Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud announced [JURIST report] by decree that the country will grant women driver’s licenses beginning next June.