Saudi Crown Prince: Anti-corruption campaign was ‘shock therapy’ to kingdom

The kingdom couldn’t meet budget targets without halting corruption, Prince Mohammed said.

:: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that reforms in the kingdom as part of the “shock” therapy needed to revamp cultural and political scenes.

In an interview with the Washington Post’s David Ignatius published on Tuesday, Prince Mohammed said the anti-corruption campaign which began in November was an example of this shock therapy.

“You have a body that has cancer everywhere, the cancer of corruption. You need to have chemo, the shock of chemo, or the cancer will eat the body.”

He spoke of personal encounters with corruption during his late teens.

“The corrupted princes were a minority, but the bad actors got more attention. It harmed the energy of the royal family.” The kingdom couldn’t meet budget targets without halting corruption, he said.

All but 56 of those arrested have now been freed after paying restitution: “Most of them know they have made big mistakes, and they have settled,” the crown prince added.

Government shake-up

Speaking on the government shake-up announced earlier this week, in which King Salman appointed a woman to a cabinet ministry, as well as younger royals to key governorates and new military leaders, Prince Mohammed said the effort was to install “high energy” people who could achieve modernization targets.

“We want to work with believers,” he added.

Defense changes

Prince Mohammed said he had been planning the defense ministry changes for several years “to get better results for Saudi defense spending.”

He also described ambitious plans to mobilize Yemeni tribes against the Houthi militia and their Iranian backers in Yemen.

Speaking on Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Prince Mohammed said he had been unfairly criticized for pressuring Hariri to resign in November.

“Now he’s in a better position” in Lebanon, relative to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia, the crown prince said.

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