A member of the Saudi royal family has reportedly fled to arch-rival Iran, hours after the death of his uncle Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd.
A report by India today raises questions about the nature of Prince Turki's departure from Saudi Arabia, as all of the country's royals have been barred from travelling.
One commentator on the region's politics tweeted that asylum has already been granted:
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There are rumours that Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd, Prince Turki's uncle and the youngest son of late King Fahd, died while resisting arrest by Saudi security forces. AlIthad News reported on the death of Prince Abdul Aziz but did not mention a cause of death. Other news outlets also covered his death:
While Saudi authorities rejected the veracity of the news, a former FBI special agent seemed to confirm the news:
Abdul Aziz is confirmed dead. He was 44 years old. Earlier, Mansour son of the former crown prince Muqrin was also declared dead. https://t.co/IsUyU896o4— Ali H. Soufan (@Ali_H_Soufan) November 5, 2017
As mentioned in the tweet above, Prince Abdul Aziz's death came only hours after the death of Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, the son of a former crown prince. Prince Mansour was last seen getting into a helicopter in a video shared by Al-Arabiya news
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While the news of Prince Turki's move to Iran has not been confirmed, there are reasons other than the recent deaths of two princes which may point to why he might have taken such a decision. Saudi King Salman announced late on Saturday the creation of a new anti-corruption committee chaired by his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said the body had detained 11 princes, four current ministers and tens of former ministers.
In a recent escalation of their historic rivalry, Saudi Arabia and Iran have been engaged in what is widely cosidered a proxy war in Saudi Arabia's neighbour Yemen, making Iran a suitable destination for anyone who has run foul of the government in Riyadh. The president of the Houthi led Revolutionary Committee in Yemen, Muhammad Ali Houthi tweeted an invitation to any Saudi royals who need protection:
الاخوة أمراءال سعودمن العائلة المالكةوكل موظف أوشخصية تشعرباستهداف النظام مستعدون لاستقبال كل من يريد الاقامة لديناكاخ مظلوم عزيز ومكرم— محمد علي الحوثي (@Moh_Alhouthi) November 5, 2017
"To our fellow Al Saud royals, to anyone in the ruling family, to any employee or person who feels targeted by the regime - we're ready to welcome you with open arms to reside with us as our oppressed brothers," Houthi wrote in his tweet.