A new report by Hugh Miles at Middle East Monitor, Is the Saudi Elite Cannibalizing Itself?" linked to by Juan Cole, reports that the recent purge of supposedly corrupt princes and high officials was (and continues to be) much more horrendous than previously reported, which I fear does not surprise me. (Link not working, sorry, but it is at juancole.com/2018.03/saufi-cannibalizes-itself.html.)
Apparently Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), whom I have previously posted about here, hired mercenaries to interrogate those arrested and kept at the Ritz Carlton, which turns out to have not been a luxurious hangout. Money, signed confessions, and promieses of loyalty were demanded, with most let out wearing electronic tags and not allowed to leave the country. Many were physically beaten, hung upside down, and tortured in vsrious ways. One of them died, the privste secretary of a former governor of Riyadh. Some have not caved yet and remain imprisoned, although this remnant has been moved out of the Ritz elsewhere as of Feb. 11 when the Ritz reopened for business.
Probably the best known of these has been Walid bin Talal, a multi-billionaire heavily involved in many businesses around the world, including in the US. Reportedly his torture led to three episodes of emergency medical care being involved. His family was brought to KSA and pictures of his young daughter in handcuffs were shown to him. A televised interview with him prior to his release had him denying he was tortured, but also had him guzzling Pepsi and chomping down condiments that it is known he would never normally eat, being a health fanatic and vegetarian. It is being touted that this was a sign of him signaling that this interview was under duress.
Supposedly the public is pretty cynical about all this, with an austerity budget in place and many wondering if and or when all the many billions supposedly paid by these supposedly corrupt princes and officials will show up to help the general public. There certainly has long been widespread corruption there, but as with Putin in Russia (and Xi in China) using anti-corruption purges to get at political opponents while enriching their cronies, there are widespread reports of massive corruption by MbS himself along with his full brothers. Supposedly MbS offerd Kim Kardashian millions to sleep with him, and, of course he paid a record $450+ million for Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" recently in the midst of this anti-corruption purge. Frankly, this is just a bit too blatant. Given what a botch he has made of the war in Yemen and the effort against Qatar, some are wondering how long he will last, as the Saudis have a revenge culture, and this unprecedented bout of torturing a bunch of top Saudi princes is going to engender very serious feedback. But, I suppose his pal Jared Kushner will help him maintain his power against angry rivals.