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Saudi king removes commander of Yemen forces over corruption claims

Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz and his son are being investigated over allegations of corruption, state media reports
Prince Fahd has been in charge of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since 2018.
Prince Fahd has been in charge of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since 2018 (AFP/File photo)

Saudi Arabia's King Salman dismissed Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz, the commander of the coalition fighting in Yemen, from his post on Tuesday over charges of corruption, state media said.

The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that Prince Fahd's son, Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd bin Turki, who had been serving as deputy governor of al-Jouf region, was also relieved of his duties.

The agency reported that the two royals, along with four military officers, had been referred for investigation into corruption at the defence ministry under a royal decree.

It said the decision was based on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's missive to the anti-corruption committee to investigate "suspicious financial transactions at the defence ministry."

"The control and anti-corruption commission shall complete an investigation into all military and civilian persons... and take the necessary legal measures against them," SPA said in a statement.

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Prince Fahd, the grandson of King Abdulaziz al-Saud - the founder of Saudi Arabia - had been in charge of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since 2018.

Riyadh launched the coalition in March 2015 after Houthi forces took over the country's capital Sanaa and ousted President Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

The ongoing war has devastated Yemen, with an estimated 80 percent of the population - 24 million people - requiring some form of humanitarian or protection assistance, according to UNOCHA. 

The conflict has been in military stalemate for years.

SPA reported that Saudi Arabia's deputy chief of staff, Lt Gen Mutlaq bin Salim al-Azaima, had been appointed to fill the position of leading the Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen.

After becoming heir to the throne in 2017, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, launched an anti-corruption campaign that saw scores of royals, ministers and businessmen detained at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel.

In a bid to shore up his rule, MBS has levelled corruption and disloyalty charges against several of his rivals in recent months, including his predecessor Mohammed bin Nayef. He's also arrested his uncle Prince Faisal bin Abdullah al-Saud, the son of the late King Abdullah.

MEE reported in March that four members of the Allegiance Council had been targeted by MBS. Three members had been either jailed or questioned, while a fourth obtained nationality from Cyprus in a bid to escape.

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