The Saudi royal family - the House of Saud - is throwing up one intrigue after another.
Hours after the reported death of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, his nephew and son of late King Fahd's eldest surviving son, Prince Turki bin Mohamed bin Fahd has fled the country. His destination, according to speculation among those who are watching the situation closely, is, wait for it, Iran.
If this is true, this may put new strain on Tehran and Riyadh, already at loggerheads for dominance in the restive Middle East region, where Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting, what analysts term, a proxy war in Yemen.
What makes Prince Turki bin Mohamed bin Fahd's reported flight to Iran, where he is said to have sought asylum, interesting, apart from his destination, is that it comes at a time when Saudi aviation authorities are said to have been told not to let any of the oil-rich kingdom's many royals fly out of the country.
Of course,with the outflow of information from Saudi Arabia particularly restricted right now, all reports of developments on the region must be taken with a pinch of salt.Turki bin Mohamed, is the son of Muhammad bin Fahd Al Saud, the second-oldest son of late Saudi King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and is also the grandnephew of the current King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
This is the same King Salman whose son Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (known informally as MBS) is believed to be have orchestrated what many are seeing as a coup by sideling prominent Saudi royals and taking decisions that could win over the country's liberal quarters.
2 DEATHS AND FLIGHT TO FREEDOM
Turki bin Mohamed's reported escape to Iran, where he has reportedly sought asylum, comes just a day after two Saudi princes reportedly died in mysterious conditions.Twitter Ads info and privacy
Yesterday, there were strong rumours and reports that Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd, the youngest son of late King Fahd, died in a gunbattle with Saudi security forces while resisting arrest.The Arabic website AlIthad News carried a report quoting a Saudi Royal Court notification to say that the Saudi royal family mourned the death of Prince Abdul Aziz but did not mention a reason for his reported death.
Abdul Aziz's death itself came merely hours after Prince Mansour Bin Muqrin, the son of former Crown Prince Muqrin al-Saud, died in a helicopter crash. According to an Al Jazeera report, the cause of the crash, which took place near the Yemen border, wasn't immediately known.The Saudi-run Al Arabiya even posted a video of Mansour Bin Muqrin boarding the ill-fated chopper.
THE 11 ARRESTS
Just the deaths of two princes on their own may not have caused Prince Turki bin Mohamed bin Fahd to consider fleeing Saudi Arabia had what happened Saturday night not happened.Just as the Middle East was coming to terms with the Lebanon prime minister's surprise resignation, the Saudi-run Al Arabiya reported that authorities had placed under arrest 11 princes and dozens of former ministers as part of a supposed anti-corruption drive.
Among those arrested were Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a leading investor and one of the world's richest businessmen, and Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who was the head of the influential National Guard.
The arrests came just after Saudi Arabia constituted a new anti-corruption committee headed by none other than Crown Prince Oh and by the way, on the same day, Saudi Arbia also managed to intercept a ballistic missile targeting Riyadh's international airport. The missile was reportedly fired from Yemen and Saudi Arabia laid the blame at its rival Iran's feet.
According to a New York Times report citing a CNN interview, the Saudi foreign minister Adel Jubair said his kingdom sees the missile firing as an "act of war". "Iran cannot lob missiles at Saudi cities and towns and expect us not to take steps," Jubair was quoted as saying.
Remember, this is the same Iran that Prince Turki bin Mohamed bin Fahd is reported to have fled to. The Iran whose relations with Saudi Arabia have always been marked with hostility, hostility that Riyadh and Tehran seem ready to resume as the fight against the Islamic State enters its fag end and geopolitical tensions in the volatile Middle East rise again.