There is an opinion that a wave of recent high profile anti-corruption arrests has been a final phase of a wide scale high-tech surveillance program personally initiated by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to ensure consolidation of power by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmanand and targeting his opposition. Dwindling oil revenues and inability to reset economy to alternative path increase risk of internal strife in Saudi Arabia already heavily burdened with tumultuous politics of Middle East. The risk factor pushes Saudi government to bolster already record high mass surveillance spending, says a recent analysis of the Saudi Arabia mass surveillance market.
“The kingdom is at a crossroads: Its economy has flatlined with low oil prices; the war in Yemen is a quagmire; the blockade of Qatar is a failure; Iranian influence is rampant in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq; and the succession is a question mark,” wrote ex-CIA official Bruce Riedel.
An even bolder assumption would be that it was the Israeli expertise that helped to gather evidence leading to arrests: “Lacking expertise, technology and qualified workforce to manage it all locally Saudis turn to European, US, Chinese, Russian and even Israeli companies. The Saudi mass surveillance market, unconstrained with Western democracy and privacy concerns, thrives and will continue to thrive as long as Saudi ruling system perceives threat to its existence.”, Source: Saudi Arabia Mass Surveillance Market Forecast.
Following arrests the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia has issued the following statement:
The Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad stated that the royal decree to fight corruption is part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s overall efforts to promote integrity and advance reform initiatives, under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
The Minister added that Saudi Arabia’s leadership is unwavering in its efforts to protect public funds in order to sustain public welfare and healthy economic policies. To this end, all anti-corruption steps taken are for the reinforcement of transparency, accountability, and strong governance, as well as, to ensure a fair business and investment environment.
In his statement, the Minister further stated that these steps will have a significantly positive impact on the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because it will encourage the return of any potentially illegally obtained millions of dollars and meters of land, which may have been misappropriated to benefit certain individuals. The goal is to recover any misallocated assets in order to direct them toward the public good, specifically to help address challenges in the housing market. This action will also serve as a strong deterrence for those who may aim to steal public money.