Several reports have emerged suggesting that three senior members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, including the king’s brother, have been arrested for unexplained reasons. 
The detentions which were first revealed by the Wall Street Journal newspaper, are said to have taken place early on Friday and include the king’s younger brother Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and a royal cousin, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef.
These men are said to be among the kingdom’s most influential figures and their detentions is being seen by many as crown prince Mohammed bin Salman further tightening his grip on power in the kingdom.
In 2017, the controversial figure, Mohammed bin Salman, who is considered as the de facto ruler of the kingdom, ordered the arrests of dozens of Saudi royal figures, ministers and businessmen in Riyadh. 
One of the three men said to be arrested on Friday is Mohammed bin Nayef who was the interior minister until 2017 when he was removed from his position and put under house arrest by the crown prince.
Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz who is 78-years-old and the king’s only surviving full brother is said to have also been arrested. Both Mohammed bin Nayef and Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz were seen as potential rivals to the 34-year-old power hungry crown prince, who is first in line for the throne.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Guards arrived at the homes of the royals wearing masks and dressed in black, and searched their properties.
In the past two years, the Saudi authorities have also arrested scores of scholars and activists in what is seen as a significant shift in internal policy led by the crown prince, and this latest news is seen as another significant move by the prince to further consolidate his position.
His recent measures have been dubbed by some as a precursor to introducing more secular-leaning laws.  In recent months, the Saudi authorities eased some other restrictions such as a decades-long ban on female drivers and public entertainment. In addition, a royal decree last year allowed Saudi women to travel abroad without a male guardian’s permission.
Prosecutors in Saudi Arabia also sought the death penalty for some prominent scholars including, Sheikh Salman al-Ouda, following an apparent secret trial. 
Amongst the dozens of prominent scholars, activists, and academics arrested by the Saudi authorities are Sheikh Salman al-Ouda, Sheikh Awad al-Qarni, Sheikh Mohammad Musa al-Sharif, Sheikh Muhammad Saleh al-Munajjid, and Sheikh Abdul Aziz at-Tarefe. 
The crown prince has been embroiled in several scandals including the ongoing brutal war in Yemen and the murder of the prominent Saudi author and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi (raḥimahu Allāhu) which prompted worldwide outrage and increased scrutiny of the prince who denies being involved in the killing.
The brutal murder in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul drew intense international condemnation. In the days following the disappearance of Khashoggi, the story developed almost every day since then, with Turkish media reporting on the 15-man “hit-squad” who arrived and departed Istanbul on the same day, and releasing horrific detail of what occurred to the critic of the Saudi rulers, including torture and dismemberment. 
The official response from the Saudi authorities was to meet all accusations with blanket denial and refuse consulate access to Turkish investigators. Consulate access was eventually granted, albeit after areas of the consulate were said to have been repainted, and a deep clean of the site carried out.
Currently, there has been no immediate official confirmation or denial of the arrest of the three senior members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family. However, based on previous scandals and palace affairs which are often shrouded in secrecy it is unlikely that we will hear much more.
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