Dhaka Courier

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was shown in state media in apparent good health

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was shown in state media in apparent good health and working, just days after the arrest of two senior princes triggered speculation about a possible coup attempt or a sudden deterioration in the king’s health. Two people close to the royal family said that the two princes were under arrest for not supporting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has consolidated control of all major levers of power inside the kingdom with the support of his father, King Salman.

The arrests of the king’s younger and beloved brother, Prince Ahmed bin Abdelaziz, and the king’s nephew and former counterterrorism czar, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, came after what one person in Saudi Arabia with knowledge of the arrests described as an accumulation of behavior that was provocative to leadership, and carried the message: Stop grumbling and toe the line, because if Prince Ahmed can be arrested, any prince can and will be.

 

The trial opened in the Netherlands of three Russians and a Ukrainian - still at large - for the murder of 298 people aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, shot down over Ukraine in 2014. The Boeing 777 went down amid a conflict in eastern Ukraine, after Russian-backed rebels seized the area. Investigators say they have proof the Buk missile system that shot it down came from a military base in Russia.

A judge called it an "atrocious disaster", as proceedings began. The trial is in a court near Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, the departure point for the Kuala Lumpur-bound flight. Head judge Hendrik Steenhuis said there had been a "tragic loss of human lives from all around the world". Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the deadly attack on 17 July 2014. Citizens of 10 different countries died on the airliner. The three Russian men and one Ukrainian man from eastern Ukraine are all linked to the heavily armed pro-Moscow separatists.

 

Two Afghan politicians - who both claim they won the presidential election - have declared themselves president at rival inauguration ceremonies. The electoral commission says incumbent Ashraf Ghani narrowly won September's vote, but Abdullah Abdullah alleges the result is fraudulent. The old rivals both held positions in the previous government.

It comes as Afghanistan prepares to enter peace talks with the Taliban, hoping to end years of violence. Experts have warned the current political rivalry will "gravely affect the government's position in the upcoming intra-Afghan talks". "Unity is the only way [forward] if they want to win on the negotiating table," political analyst Atta Noori told news agency AFP. Mr Ghani, who has been president since 2014, held his inauguration ceremony at the Presidential Palace. Mr Abdullah held his at the Sapedar Palace - despite his team earlier saying they would be prepared to cancel it, following the intervention of US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

 

Oil prices crashed in Asia by around 30% in what analysts are calling the start of a price war. Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia slashed its oil prices at the weekend after it failed to convince Russia to back sharp production cuts. Oil cartel Opec and its ally Russia had previously worked together on production curbs. The benchmark Brent oil futures plunged to a low of $31.02 a barrel on Monday, in volatile energy markets.

Oil prices have tumbled since Friday, when Opec's 14 members led by Saudi Arabia met with its allies Russia and other non-Opec members. They met to discuss how to respond to falling demand caused by the growing spread of the coronavirus. But the two sides failed to agree on measures to cut production by as much as 1.5 million barrels a day.

  • DhakaCourier
  • World this week
  • Issue 36
  • Vol 36

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