US President Donald Trump has praised Saudi Arabia’s leaders after the dismissal of a number of senior ministers and the detention of princes, in what the state is calling an anti-corruption investigation.
Last weekend’s purge and detentions are widely seen as an effort by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to assert his influence within the country.
“I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing,” Trump said in a post on Twitter on Monday.
“Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”
His tweets came days after Trump urged Saudi Arabia to list the state-owned oil giant Aramco’s shares in the United States.
“I want them to strongly consider the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or NASDAQ, or frankly anybody else located in this country,” Trump during his flight to Japan’s capital, Tokyo, for the start of his Asian tour.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire businessman who owns the investment firm Kingdom Holding, was among those held last week, according to state media.
Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar, a board member of Saudi Arabia’s biggest travel company, was also reportedly on the list.
The senior ministers who were sacked included Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, the head of the National Guard, and Adel Faqih, the economy minister, state media reported.
Saudi authorities have reportedly frozen bank accounts of targeted individuals and drawn up a no-fly list.
In a statement on the official Saudi news agency, SPA, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud alluded 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”.
Trump’s son-in-law and political adviser, Jared Kushner, recently returned from Saudi Arabia, where he met officials. Washington said his visit was meant to bolster Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
The Saudi shake-up comes just months after King Salman replaced his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, with his son as the kingdom’s crown prince.
Mohammed bin Salman has been responsible for pushing through a number of changes both at home and abroad since he became first in line to the Saudi crown.