Power play

Saudi crown prince has reportedly kept his mother from seeing his father, King Salman, for years

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

More than a dozen current and former U.S. officials have alleged that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has been using various means, including house arrest, to keep his mother, Princess Fahda bint Falah Al Hathleen, from having contact with his father, King Salman. Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, a key White House ally who is often referred to as MBS, has reportedly blocked his mother from seeing King Salman for more than two years in order to prevent her from interfering with his attempts to consolidate power.

Since MBS deposed his cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, as the country’s heir to the throne last June — by allegedly imprisoning bin Nayef in a palace until he agreed to abdicate — he has also arrested more than 200 Saudi officials, businessmen, and prominent princes in a power play that he claimed was a crackdown on corruption. For the U.S., however, MBS could prove an important ally, as he has previously indicated support for improved women’s rights, such as the right to drive which will be granted to women this summer, and has led a push to modernize the Saudi economy — including by opening up resorts where women would be allowed to wear bikinis. President Trump in particular has been highly complimentary of MBS as he seeks to build closer ties with Saudi Arabia, and has defended the prince’s “corruption” crackdown with his unique brand of Twitter diplomacy.

But as far back as September 2015, officials said King Salman had erroneously told President Obama that his wife was in New York receiving cancer treatments. Obama declined to tell the king that his wife was not in New York, but the incident was confirmed by intelligence, such as intercepted communications in which MBS was heard talking about the measures he was taking to keep his mother from his father without the king’s knowledge. Multiple officials indicated that King Salman, 82, is not always lucid, and that he has at times been told that his third wife is out of the country receiving medical treatment. King Salman, the officials added, has told those around him that he misses her, and appears to still be ignorant of the fact that his son is keeping her from him.

Representatives from the Saudi government have denied the NBC report as “absolutely not true.” For more on the story, watch the video below.

Read the full story at NBC News.

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