Next Khashoggi? Disappearance of Saudi Princess Raises Questions About How Far Up This Goes

Published November 20th, 2019 - 10:46 GMT
Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Saud
Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Saud

Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Saud was reportedly abducted earlier this year on suspicion of trying to flee the country and had been unreachable since. At the time, the 55-year-old mother of five was traveling to Switzerland for "urgent medical attention," and had been cleared for the trip. 

Translate: “This is the fate of anybody who speaks against the Saudi Royal Family, princess Basmah bint Saud just went missing. Where is she?”

Princess Basmah's attorney, Leonard Bennett, said that about two months after the incident, "She just fell off the radar; no one knew where she was. We actually feared the worst." When he was finally able to reach her, she was "sounding very much like a hostage," he said.

She is the youngest daughter of former King Saud, who ruled over the country from 1953 to 1964 and is believed to have fathered 115 children, and has emerged as a critic of the royal family and an advocate for constitutional reform over the last decade.

"We have ministers who are incapable of doing what has been ordered from above because there is no follow up, because there are no consequences. If you are a poor man and you steal, your hand is cut off after three offences. But if you are a rich man, nobody will say anything to you," Princess Basmah said during an interview in 2012.

She continued: "We have 15,000 royals... You have 2,000 who are multi-millionaires, who have all the power, all the wealth and no-one can even utter a word against it because they are afraid to lose what they have." 

Translate: “Pray for Princess Basmah bint Saud..”

The princess had been outspoken on a number of issues including publicly calling for an end of the Saudi war on Yemen.

Madawi al-Rasheed, an expert on Saudi politics and the royal family at the London School of Economics, said he believes that her advocacy may have been what actually got the princess into trouble.

"They may have put her under house arrest or detention to prevent her from leaving and being outspoken," al-Rasheed said. "But to think that there is somebody lower down doing this to please Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, I doubt that. They could do that with other people, but not a princess."

Translate: “The Saudi Royal Family felt threatened by Princess Basmah's humanity, because she called for better Saudi politics.”

Despite the massive news coverage of her disappearance and the massive backlash the Kingdom received for suspicions that she is unsafe, some social media users defended the royal family, arguing that the princess is not missing, but is merely on a “long vacation”. 

Another social media user demanded Germany to mind its own business and leave Saudi Arabia alone, attacking it for its Nazi past. 

Translate: “And what does the German government want with Princess Basmah bint Saud? The Nazi country will never be able to win a war with Saudi Arabia, that's the truth.”

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