The soon-to-be-liberal kingdom of Saudi Arabia was hit with rumors of a coup brewing in Riyadh late Saturday night as gun shots echoed in the vicinity of King Salman’s residence. The rumor mill on Twitter started churning, with some claiming Mohammed bin Salman was ushered to a safe military bunker in the midst of the armed coup.
The coup seemed like a perfect culmination to the intense power struggles going on within the Saudi royal family. In a notorious purge that the Saudi regime championed as an anti-corruption drive, many powerful members of the burgeoning royal clan such as Alwaleed bin Talal were detained. Many on Twitter speculated that factions within the government loyal to the deposed princes may have set the coup in motion. The ID card of the alleged attacker began making the rounds on the internet.
Reports are coming out that the gunfire in Riyahd is in fact part of a coup attempt by disgruntled officers in the Saudi National guard loyal to prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and are currently led by colonel Sa’amuyil Al-Khayit #SaudiArabia #coup pic.twitter.com/gDeaMcDyU4— IncanBro (@IncanBro) April 21, 2018
Others, such as University of Miami visiting faculty Rula Jebreal declared that bin Salman’s repressive policies in KSA had finally backfired.
Heavy gunfire in #Saudi Royal Palace in Riyadh.— Rula Jebreal (@rulajebreal) April 21, 2018
King Salman evacuated.
Did Saudi Arabia just experience an attempted coup?
The Saudi monarchy is deeply split,
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However, fears of a coup were quashed when it was officially announced that the gun shots were from the security firing a drone that had been found near the royal residence. State-run SPA news agency confirmed that the security had "dealt with" an unauthorized, small drone-type toy spotted in the Khuzama neighborhood. It is unclear whether the plane was the toy of one of the many Saudi princes or if it posed a serious threat to the palace.
Neither King Salman or his son were present at the palace at the time of the incident.
The fears of an attack on the royal palace are not entirely unfounded. In October 2017, a man drove up to the Al Salam palace gates in Jeddah and shot at security. The skirmish left the shooter and two security guards dead. However, the kingdom, which saw its last serious coup in 1969, looks like it is safe from any takeover of power at this time.
Banner Credit: Joshua Roberts/Reuters