MBS was on a world tour, hamming it up daily with politicians and celebrities in the United States. Then, on April 21, there were automatic weapons fired at his compound and there has been no public sighting of him since. To dispel rumors, Saudi Arabia has released photos that are intended to be “evidence” of MBS still being alive. But look at the photos. What is to say these aren’t stock photos taken from weeks before? Nothing forensically dates these photos to after April 21.
The clip shows Salman alive and well, greeting Yemeni President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi in Jeddah yesterday to discuss the ongoing Yemen crisis, Al-Arabiya claimed.
A photograph showing the Crown Prince chairing a meeting with government officials has also been tweeted.
Saudi Arabia has always denied that any coup attempt took place, saying videos of heavy gunfire at the palace was guards shooting down a civilian drone.
State controlled media in Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch enemy, has been speculating Prince Salman had been arrested even killed during attempts to topple him.
Iran’s Kayhan newspaper claimed: “At least two bullets have hit bin Salman in April 21 clashes in Riyadh and it is even possible that he is dead.”
The paper asked about why Salman was not pictured when new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid his first visit to Saudi Arabia Riyadh in late April.
It claimed: “There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the absence of nearly 30 days of Muhammad bin Sulman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, is due to an incident which is being hidden from the public.”
Salman may have opponents within the regime because of his reformist agenda.
This includes introducing measures to loosen the country’s strict gender segregation including letting women drive in Saudi Arabia for the first time.
There has also been a crackdown on corruption.
And he has signalled the prospect of closer relations with Israel with comments about Israel having the right to a homeland going further than any other Arab leader.
The two countries do not have diplomatic ties.
But it is widely believed the nations could be about to forge an alliance because of their common enemy – Iran.
Fears that an armed coup was underway in Saudi Arabia‘s palace have been dismissed as a drone which got too close to the gates.
Videos had been posted on social media which claimed to be of heavy gunfire outside the palace in Rihayd, although these now appear to be false.
Wall Street journalist Margherita Stancati, who reports from Saudi Arabia, tweeted: ‘No coup attempt in Riyadh. A toy drone/plane got too close too the King’s palace and was shot down.’
A Saudi official confirmed on a state news agency that a drone had been shot down after footage was posted online of the gunshorts.
A spokesman for the Riyadh police said forces at a checkpoint in the Khozama district identified the drone and ‘dealt with it according to their orders’, state news said without specifying if there were any injuries or damage.
According to the rumours on social media, it was claimed that the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had been evacuated to a nearby bunker at a military base for his safety, although this too appears to be false.
Al Jazeera tweeted to confirm that King Salman was not at the Ouja Palace duing the shooting.
Twitter was full of rumours, claiming that the footage proved there was an ongoing coup.
It was also claimed that the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had been evacuated to a nearby bunker at a military base for his safety, although this too appears to be false
Footage was posted online which claimed to be of a coup attempt near Rihayd
The tweet by a Wall Street Journalist dispelling rumours of a coup near the Saudi Arabian palace
Reporter Daniel Medina tweeted: ‘BREAKING: A number of journalists in Riyadh are reporting heavy fire outside palace compound. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, per these sources, has been evacuated to a bunker inside a military base in the city. Information coming in is still fluid, remains unconfirmed.’
thayyib tweeted: ‘BREAKING: Coup underway at Royal Palace in #Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. AP has reported that Royal Saudi Land Forces (KSA) Lieutenant General Allukas Nepils is leading the military push to oust King Salman.’
Posts were circulating on social media which suggested a coup may be underway
Other social media users were quick to urge others not to believe the circulating rumours until there was official confirmation.
Seth Frantzman tweeted: ‘All the rumors about Riyadh seem to miss some essential questions. The city is not on lockdown. Social networks are working. There aren’t helicopters in the air or armored vehicles in the street. So the rumors about a major incident would seem unfounded. We will see.’
Where’s Mohammed Bin Salman? Not Dead, Saudis Say
Saudi authorities have released new video footage of Mohammed bin Salman amid conspiracy theories alleging the crown prince has been dead for more than a month.The undated video shows Salman chairing a meeting of the Council of Economic Affairs and Development in Jeddah, which apparently took place on May 29, according to CNN.
On April 21, heavy gunfire was heard around the royal palace in Riyadh. According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the shots were fired by security guards neutralizing a hobby drone flown within the palace perimeter. There were no casualties, and 82-year-old King Salman was not at his palace, a Saudi official told Reuters at the time.
However, questions arose regarding the whereabouts of the crown prince, who usually a high media profile and is regularly seen meeting fellow leaders and chairing events. Unusually, he was not pictured or filmed by Saudi media for several weeks after the drone was shot down.
Media agencies in Iran—Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival—took the lead on conspiracy theories alleging that the gunfire in Riyadh was in fact a coup attempt, and that the crown prince may have been killed.
Iran’s Kayhannewspaper quoted intelligence reports and anonymous officials who claimed “at least two bullets” hit Salman during the incident “and it is even possible that he is dead.” The paper also questioned why the crown prince was not pictured with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his first visit to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi state department dismissed reports of the crown prince’s death, and told The Washington Times that Pompeo had “recently interacted” with Salman.
Though he is still crown prince and not king, Salman is the anointed successor to the throne and oversees much of the kingdom’s policies. According to anonymous officials quoted by NBC News, the king is “not consistently lucid.”
The 32-year-old Salman usurped his cousin to become crown prince in June 2017. Since the power grab, Salman has been working to cement his power. Internationally, he aligned himself closely with President Donald Trump’s White House and against Iranian influence in the Middle East. This policy led Saudi Arabia to war in Yemen against Tehran-backed Houthi rebels and into a diplomatic blockade of neighboring Qatar, which Salman accuses of funding terrorism.
On the home front, Salman drove a corruption clampdown targeting more than 200 officials, businessmen and royals. The accused were forced to pay fines to be released from jail—where there were allegations of torture—netting the government more than $100 billion in fines.
Salman is also the key figure behind Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 initiative, which aims to move the Saudi economy away from its reliance on oil production and cultivate a modern “vibrant society.”