Regime, Russia kill 387 civilians in Idlib, Syria


March 28, 2020

The Syrian regime and its allies killed hundreds of civilians in northwestern Idlib city between the period of two cease-fire deals reached on Jan. 12 and March 6 by Ankara and Moscow, according to a rights watchdog, Anadolu reports.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reported that aggression of the Bashar al-Assad regime, Iran-backed foreign terrorist groups, and Russia left 387 civilians dead.
While regime forces are responsible for the killing of 174 civilians, Russian strikes killed 213 others; among the dead are 104 children and 62 women.
Turkey and Russia agreed on a cease-fire as of Jan 12. However, the Assad regime and its allies defied the agreement and launched incessant attacks.
In response, Turkish and Russian presidents gathered in Moscow on March 5 and reached a new deal, and a fresh cease-fire went into effect the next day. Although regime forces have violated the deal at several points, the parties remain loyal to the cease-fire to a great extent now.
Asad forces advance in Idlib [Cartoon/Arabi21]
Asad forces advance in Idlib [Cartoon/Arabi21]
Following the Astana talks of 2017, Turkey, Russia, and Iran agreed to turn Idlib city and three other regions into “de-escalation zones” — where acts of aggression were prohibited.
That said, the regime and Iran-backed foreign terror elements captured three of the zones with support of Russian airstrikes, and then Idlib became their new target.
The regime forces intensified their military deployment in September 2018, which paved the way for the Sochi agreement between Turkey and Russia the same month.
Later on, the Syrian regime, after pausing its aggression, launched a ground offensive in May 2019 and captured south and southeastern Idlib, northern parts and eastern rural areas of Hama, and many settlements of southern and western rural parts of Aleppo.
Since the Sochi deal, the regime and allies’ attacks killed over 1,800 civilians; nearly two million people have been displaced due to aggression since early 2019.

UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria: As global pandemic reaches Syria, fighting must stop and urgent steps taken to prevent an even greater tragedy [EN/AR]


28 Mar 2020

Geneva, 28 March 2020 – With the first reported cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the Syrian Arab Republic, parties must cease fighting and allow space for urgent measures to be taken to avoid further catastrophe, said the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.
Nearly nine years of war have left the Syrian health care system acutely weakened. Only 64% of hospitals and 52% of primary healthcare centres are functioning, while 70% of the health workforce has left the country, according to the World Health Organisation. Much of this situation is a result of pro-Government forces systematically targeting medical facilities. Nurses, doctors and medical volunteers have been attacked, detained and disappeared by parties to the conflict. The Commission reiterates that all attacks on medical providers, facilities, hospitals, and first responders must cease immediately.
"Syrian civilians now face a deadly threat in the form of the COVID-19 outbreak, one that will strike without distinction and that will be devastating for the most vulnerable in the absence of urgent preventative action," said Paulo Pinheiro, Chair of the Commission. "In order to avoid a looming tragedy, the parties must heed the United Nations Secretary-General's and the Special Envoy's calls for a cease-fire – anything short of that will likely condemn large numbers of civilians to preventable deaths", he continued. The Commission supports Special Envoy Pederson's appeal for all parties to commit to an immediate ceasefire and also welcomes the Syrian Democratic Forces statement on avoiding military action in light of the pandemic.
Among the communities most vulnerable to COVID-19 are the more than 6.5 million internally displaced Syrians. This includes more than a million civilians, mainly women and children, who have been living in the open or overcrowded tents and makeshift camps along the Syria-Turkey border in Idlib Governorate. They have extremely limited access to clean water or sanitation. Elsewhere in the country, tens of thousands of others remain interned with limited access to medical care, including the 70,000 people, primarily women and children, in the al-Hol camp in eastern Syria. "Humanitarian aid, including medical supplies and support, must be allowed to flow to such persons based on need and not political considerations," urged Commissioner Karen AbuZayd.
The situation of those detained countrywide is even more critical now. The Commission has previously documented deaths in detention due to torture, beatings, inhumane living conditions, lack of adequate medical care, and wilful neglect. A recent Government amnesty decree grants pardons and reduced sentences, but unless broadly and swiftly implemented many more detainees may not survive. "We reiterate our call to immediately release all those detained arbitrarily or unlawfully, as well as all children, the elderly, the disabled and the infirm without delay" urged Commissioner Megally.
The Commission also reiterates calls made by Secretary-General Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Bachelet regarding the need to ease or waive sectoral sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support.
For millions of Syrians the global pandemic threatens to unleash new facets of suffering on a population that has already endured unfathomable hardship, violations, and deprivations. Urgent action is need by all actors in the Syrian Arab Republic as well as the international community to avert yet another tragedy.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, which comprises Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro (Chair), Ms. Karen Koning AbuZayd, and Mr. Hanny Megally has been mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate and record all violations of international law since March 2011 in the Syrian Arab Republic.
More information can be found on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic's webpage.
Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Media Officer, OHCHR, Human Rights Council Branch, rgomez@ohchr.org + 41 79 477 4411

UAE imposes curfew for deep cleaning as coronavirus cases rise


Infections in the Gulf region passed 2,600 on Thursday, as Saudi Arabia's cases passed 1,000.

The United Arab Emirates has imposed overnight curfews to allow for a nationwide disinfection to combat the coronavirus as cases in the Gulf region have risen to over 2,600.  
Authorities said restrictions on movement of traffic and people in the UAE will start overnight from Thursday until Sunday and will last from 8pm (16:00 GMT) to 6am (02:00 GMT).


Only essential service workers would be allowed out and violators will face fines, a security forces spokesman said in a press conference on Thursday. Public transport including trams and metro services will be suspended, while private cars, cabs and delivery vehicles can operate outside those hours, according to the official. 
On Wednesday, Dubai directed the private sector to implement remote working for most staff, but exempted a broad spectrum of businesses. The next day, the UAE government ordered all federal ministries and establishments and the private sector to limit the number of staff in offices to 30 percent, exempting sectors providing what the government considers to be essential services.
The latest measures come as the country slowly followed other Gulf states in suspending passenger flights and closing public venues such as restaurants and malls.

Virus spreads in the Gulf

On Thursday, the number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia passed 1,000 with 112 new infections reported, most of them in the capital Riyadh and the holy city of Mecca.
They also reported a third death from the virus, a resident in Medina who had suffered from chronic diseases.
Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar also saw more cases, taking the total in the six Gulf states to over 2,600, with nine deaths.
Among the countries, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have taken the most drastic steps, including imposing partial nationwide curfews and suspending work at most public and private sector establishments.
Kuwait on Thursday banned all taxis, directed the state supply company to cover any basic food shortages and said it would disburse a month's salary to all Kuwaiti students abroad.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has released 250 foreign detainees held on non-violent immigration and residency offences as part of efforts to contain the spread of the disease, the state-backed Human Rights Commission said on Thursday. Bahrain and Kuwait have also announced prisoner releases.

Citizen evacuations

The island nation of Bahrain has continued to evacuate several hundred Bahraini pilgrims stranded in Iran, which is an epicentre for the disease in the region, with over 29,000 cases reported and 2,400 deaths. 
A second repatriation flight of around 60 Bahrainis arrived overnight Thursday from the holy Shia Iranian city of Mashhad, operated by Iranian airline Kish, families and a Bahraini official told Reuters news agency.
Bahrain earlier this month repatriated 165 people, but a number of subsequent scheduled flights were cancelled. At least 85 of the first batch of evacuees tested positive for the virus.
In Qatar, the government's crisis committee ordered the closure of all non-vital shops, and cafes and entertainment outlets, and restricted the working hours of all other shops to 6am to 7pm.
Pharmacies, grocery stores and delivery services are excluded from these restrictions, the committee said in a press conference on Saturday.
Qatar recorded 12 new cases of the virus on Thursday, taking its total to 549. 


Iranian Doctor Shirin Rouhani dies while treating Coronavirus patients


by Ayushi Aggarwal

View image on Twitter

Iranian doctor, Dr Shirin Rouhani lost her life while treating coronavirus patients. Due to the lack of doctors and medical staff to assist such a large number of patients, she kept treating patients until her last breath. She herself was on IV while treating patients.

Dr. Shirin Rouhani was a physician and general practitioner of Shohada Hospital in Iran, and she lost her life to coronavirus. Although she was moved to different hospitals, she died serving her country’s people in the fight against the deadly coronavirus.
Coronavirus has now become a rapidly spreading crisis the entire world is facing. And we ought to salute doctors who have no option to exercise social distancing. They are the ones working all day and night dealing with the widespread of the disease.

High mortality rate among medical staff

High mortality rate among nurses taking care of coronavirus patients, Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam, Secretary-General of the Nurses Home in Iran stated: “The coronavirus’s high mortality rate of nurses reflects the inadequacy of the country’s health authorities, especially the Nursing Assistant of the Ministry of Health and the nursing system. Necessary measures are not provided to maintain the health of nurses. From the shortage of masks, gloves, scrubs and other equipment to the shortage of nursing staff that has forced nurses to care for more coronavirus patients in hospitals.”
Doctors and medical staff from all over the world are leading this battle against Coronavirus from the front. They truly are the real heroes selflessly doing their duty, putting their own lives at risk and saving the world. The best we can do is appreciate their efforts and support them by co-operating and staying at home. They are putting their families, their food, their sleep everything on low priorities to save people they don’t even know.
Ayushi Aggarwal is an intern at SheThePeople.TV


Bahrain accuses Iran of 'biological aggression' over COVID-2019


Gulf states take new steps in an attempt to curb coronavirus as Bahrain blames Iran for covering up spread of disease.

Bahrain accused Iran on Thursday of "biological aggression" by covering up the spread of the coronavirus and failing to stamp the passports of Bahraini travellers.
Many of the recorded infections throughout the Gulf region are linked to travel to Iran, which hosts several important shrines and pilgrimage sites for Shia Muslims.


"With this behaviour, Iran has allowed the disease to travel abroad, and in my estimation this constitutes a form of biological aggression that is criminalised by international law, as it has put in danger our safety and health and that of others," Bahraini Interior Minister General Sheikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa said in comments on Twitter.
In an apparent response to Al Khalifa's comments, Amir Abdollahian, special aide to Iran's parliamentary speaker, tweeted: "America, which rules Bahrain through the presence of its Fifth Fleet, is a major cause of biological warfare and initially denied the existence of coronavirus."
Saudi Arabia, which has a minority Shia population and had already made it a crime to travel to Iran, denounced its regional rival last week for granting Saudi citizens entry.
Bahrain, where Shia make up a majority of the population, has no such restrictions.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has denied that not stamping passports has anything to do with coronavirus and called on Riyadh to avoid politicising the epidemic.
As the death toll continued to rise in Iran, Gulf Arab states took new steps to contain the virus, with Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority saying anyone diagnosed with coronavirus was forbidden from attending Friday prayers.
Attendance is generally mandatory for able-bodied Muslim men, but Riyadh said those under quarantine, and those afraid of being infected or infecting others, need not attend.
No Gulf Arab state has reported a coronavirus death as of yet.
But Bahrain on Wednesday reported 77 new infections among citizens evacuated from Iran, and a second government-chartered repatriation flight was scheduled for Thursday.
Bahrain said non-compliance with isolation measures would be punishable by up to three months in jail and a fine of up to 10,000 Kuwaiti dinars ($32,000). Three people have already been reported to the public prosecutor, state news agency BNA said.

Flight bans

Saudi Arabia, which has suspended the Umrah pilgrimage and locked down its eastern Qatif region where many infections are located, announced 24 new cases overnight for a total of 45.
Riyadh halted flights to the European Union and 12 other countries, extending an earlier ban and giving Saudi citizens and residents 72 hours to return, state news agency SPA said.
The flight ban now includes many countries from where millions of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia hail.
Passenger traffic through all land crossings with Jordan was also suspended, though commercial and cargo traffic continued.
The Saudi health ministry asked people to avoid shaking hands and banned gatherings of more than 50.
Kuwait reported eight new infections, bringing its total to 80, and started a two-week public holiday declared to help contain the virus. Authorities closed the stock market on Thursday and banned all commercial passenger flights to and from Kuwait.
Oman suspended tourist visas from all countries and banned cruise ships from docking at its ports. The United Arab Emirates reported 11 new cases, taking its total to 85.
Dubai's Emirates airline said it was suspending flights to Italy until April 3, in addition to other routes in the United States, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Sister carrier flydubai said it was suspending flights to Italy.
Qatar on Wednesday announced 238 new cases among expatriates in a single compound after three residents tested positive for the virus on Sunday.


Coronavirus: Saudi royal hospital 'shutting down' after doctor tests for virus


Sources inside Riyadh's King Faisal Hospital describe scenes of 'chaos', with at least 12 confirmed cases, and King Salman isolated at his palace


Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal Hospital, where members of the royal family, including King Salman, are treated, has been closed to all but emergency cases after a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, medical sources in the hospital told Middle East Eye on Friday.
The hospital, one of the biggest in the country with about 1,000 beds, will remain closed to most patients until at least Tuesday, after the female anaesthetist had exposure to colleagues and patients.
The woman collapsed during a procedure and is suspected of having picked up the virus from a domestic worker at her home, sources told MEE.
Staff in the anaesthesiology department have been isolated at their homes and are being monitored.
As many as 12 people inside the hospital have tested positive for the virus, but the exact number is not known because testing is limited, a medical source inside the hospital told MEE.
All but four hospital entrances have been closed and guards placed on each are monitoring everyone who goes in and out.
A source said: “They have halted all routine treatment of patients, which is crippling for a hospital this size. It is one of the biggest and most prestigious in Saudi.
“The hospital is only dealing with emergency admissions and it is chaos in here because no one knows who is infected and what to do.”
When contacted by MEE, the hospital confirmed that it would start shutting down non-emergency services from Sunday. Routine appointments are not scheduled for Friday and Saturday as it is the weekend.
Some emergency services are also being withdrawn and patients are being contacted about the situation.
The hospital has a special wing for treating members of the royal family, particularly the king and his brothers.
Officially there have been 274 cases of infection and no fatalities so far in the kingdom, according to the latest figures provided by the Ministry of Health on Thursday.
But the real infection rate is many times higher than that, according to medical sources in Riyadh.
All internal flights, train travel and taxis have been cancelled for two weeks.
On Thursday, King Salman appeared on television to deliver a statement on coronavirus. In a heavily edited broadcast, he read from a script to deliver a message of reassurance to Saudis.
“The strength, steadfastness, determination that you have demonstrated during the honourable defiance of this difficult phase, and your full cooperation with relevant government agencies, are the most important contributing factors and pillars of the success of the state’s efforts, which has prioritised safeguarding health and made it the state's top concern,” he said.
“Therefore, rest assured that we are very keen on providing the necessary medication, food and living necessities for citizens and residents of this blessed land.”
The king, who is 84 and suffers from dementia, appeared to be in good health. MEE understands he has been isolated in his palace and has received visits from Chinese specialists in coronavirus.


Nell’Europa del virus i bombardieri Usa da attacco nucleare


L'arte dell guerra. A causa del Coronavirus le American Airlines e altre compagnie aeree statunitensi hanno cancellato molti voli per l’Europa. C’è però una «compagnia» Usa che, viceversa, li ha aumentati: la US Air Force

A causa del Coronavirus le American Airlines e altre compagnie aeree statunitensi hanno cancellato molti voli per l’Europa. C’è però una «compagnia» Usa che, viceversa, li ha aumentati: la US Air Force. In questi giorni essa ha «dispiegato in Europa una task force di bombardieri stealth B-2 Spirit».
Lo annuncia da Stoccarda lo US European Command, il Comando Europeo degli Stati Uniti. Esso è agli ordini di generale, attualmente Tod D. Wolters della US Air Force, che allo stesso tempo è a capo delle forze Nato quale Comandante Supremo Alleato in Europa. Lo US European Command precisa che la task force, composta da un numero imprecisato di bombardieri provenienti dalla base Whiteman in Missouri, «è arrivata il 9 marzo a Lajes Field nelle Azzorre, in Portogallo».
Il bombardiere strategico B-2 Spirit, l’aereo più caro del mondo il cui costo supera i 2 miliardi di dollari, è il più avanzato aereo Usa da attacco nucleare. Ciascun velivolo può trasportare 16 bombe termonucleari B-61 o B-83, con una potenza massima complessiva equivalente a oltre 1.200 bombe di Hiroshima. Per effetto della sua conformazione, del suo rivestimento e delle sue contromisure elettroniche, il B-2 Spirit è difficilmente rilevabile dai radar (per questo è detto «aereo invisibile»).
Anche se è già stato usato in guerra, ad esempio contro la Libia nel 2011, con bombe non-nucleari di grande potenza a guida satellitare (ne può trasportare 80), esso è progettato per penetrare attraverso le difese nemiche ed effettuare un attacco nucleare di sorpresa. Questi bombardieri, precisa lo US European Command, «opereranno da varie installazioni militari nell’area di responsabilità del Comando Europeo degli Stati Uniti». Tale area comprende l’intera regione europea e tutta la Russia (inclusa la parte asiatica). Ciò significa che i più avanzati bombardieri Usa da attacco nucleare opereranno, da basi in Europa, a ridosso della Russia.
Capovolgendo lo scenario, è come se i più avanzati bombardieri russi da attacco nucleare operassero da basi a Cuba a ridosso degli Stati uniti. È evidente lo scopo perseguito da Washington: accrescere la tensione con la Russia usando l’Europa quale prima linea del confronto.
Ciò permette a Washington di rafforzare la sua leadership sugli alleati europei e di orientare la politica estera e militare dell’Unione europea, nella quale 22 dei 27 membri appartengono alla Nato sotto comando Usa. Tale strategia è facilitata dalla crisi provocata dal Coronavirus. Oggi più che mai, in una Europa in gran parte paralizzata dal virus, gli Usa possono fare ciò che vogliono.
Lo conferma il fatto che essi vi trasferiscono i loro più avanzati bombardieri da attacco nucleare con il consenso di tutti i governi e i parlamenti europei e della stessa Unione europea, con il complice silenzio di tutti i grandi media europei. Lo stesso silenzio calato sulla Defender Europe 20, il più grande spiegamento di forze Usa in Europa dalla fine della Guerra Fredda, di cui i media hanno parlato solo quando lo US European Command ha comunicato che, a causa del Coronavirus, ridurrà i soldati Usa partecipanti all’esercitazione da 30.000 a un numero imprecisato, mantenendo comunque «i nostri obiettivi di più alta priorità».
Nel quadro di una vera e propria psy-op (operazione psicologica militare) vari organi di «informazione», anche in Italia, si sono subito scagliati contro «le bufale sull’esercitazione Defender Europe» (La Repubblica, 13 marzo) e, attraverso i social, si è diffusa la voce che l’esercitazione è stata praticamente cancellata.
Notizia tranquillizzante, rafforzata dall’assicurazione, data dallo US European Command, che «nostra principale preoccupazione è proteggere la salute delle nostre forze e quella dei nostri alleati». Appunto sostituendo in Europa un numero imprecisato di soldati Usa con un numero imprecisato di bombardieri Usa da attacco nucleare, ciascuno con una potenza distruttiva pari a oltre 1.200 bombe di Hiroshima.

Nuova ondata di epurazioni: bin Salman arresta 298 funzionari pubblici


by Chiara Cruciati

Arabia saudita. Le accuse sono di corruzione e abuso di ufficio, l'ultima mossa del delfino per eliminare oppositori e critici della sua gestione del potere in vista della successione del padre, re Salman, programmata da MbS per il prossimo autunno
Dopo aver fatto arrestare 20 principi membri della famiglia reale, tra cui il cugino, il fratello e lo zio Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, accusandoli di aver ordito un colpo di stato con l’aiuto di non meglio precisati soggetti stranieri, domenica Riyadh ha annunciato l’arresto di almeno 298 funzionari pubblici, tra governativi, militari e membri dell’intelligence. Le accuse sono di corruzione e abuso di ufficio, identiche a quelle che nel novembre 2017 portò alla prima grande epurazione con circa 500 tra principi, ministri ed ex ministri arrestati e rinchiusi nell’hotel Ritz-Carlton nella capitale del regno.
A renderlo noto su Twitter è stata la Commissione nazionale anti-corruzione, nota come Nazaha: i 298 arrestati sarebbero accusati di corruzione e riciclaggio di denaro per un totale di 379 milioni di rial, pari a 101 milioni di dollari. Tra gli indagati otto ufficiali del ministero della difesa (su cui pesa l’accusa di tangenti in relazioni a contratti governativi tra il 2005 e il 2015), 29 del ministero degli interni, due giudici, tre colonnelli e un generale.
Una buona fetta di élite politica ed economica, fatta fuori in poche ore dalle autorità della petromonarchia. Il migliore dei modi per il delfino per preparare la successione, con papà ancora vivo: eliminare voci critiche, potenziali oppositori, dalla base ai vertici, dai funzionari governativi ai principi. Anche usando accuse diverse: se domenica è stata la corruzione, dieci giorni fa è stato il presunto golpe che ha colpito uno spicchio significativo di famiglia reale. Coloro, dicono fonti interne alla monarchia, che non vedono di buon occhio né il protagonismo di Mohammed bin Salman né la sua gestione del potere, dall’omicidio pressoché alla luce del sole del giornalista Jamal Khashoggi alla guerra mai vinta in Yemen, fino al conflitto con l’Iran.
Per ora da Riyadh non giungono commenti di sorta alla mega-retata. Commentano analisti e osservatori esterni che sui media arabi si dicono certi che una tale epurazione non porterà che instabilità al regno. Un regno già indebolito dalle politiche adottate intorno al confronto aperto con l’Iran, una guerra per procura che massacra lo Yemen senza che la petromonarchia riesca a vincere (al contrario, dissangua le casse reali con il poco meritevole record di armi acquistate nel mondo in proporzione alla popolazione) e che ha condotto a un mai ricucito rapporto con il Qatar.
A tenere su la baracca, fino a oggi, è l’indefessa alleanza con Europa e Stati uniti, apparentemente incrinata dall’omicidio Khashoggi (il Congresso Usa ha chiesto la fine dell’intervento a fianco di Riyadh in Yemen, mentre alcuni paesi europei hanno sospeso la vendita di armi), ma mai venuta meno. A dimostrarlo il traffico di equipaggiamento militare e i tanti eventi sportivi europei transitati per Gedda.


Saudi Arabia detains king's brother, nephew in crackdown: Reports


Reported detentions mark latest crackdown by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler.

Saudi Arabia has detained two senior members of the royal family - Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, and Mohammed bin Nayef, the king's nephew - according to reports citing sources with knowledge of the matter.
The Wall Street Journal reported the detentions of the two royals on Friday and said they related to an alleged coup attempt. Bloomberg also reported the detentions, quoting a source as saying that the pair were accused of "treason".
Mohammed bin Nayef's younger brother, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef, had also been detained, according to the New York Times.
There was no immediate comment by Saudi authorities.


The detentions mark the latest crackdown by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, King Salman's son and the de facto ruler of the kingdom.
Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, has moved to consolidate power since replacing his cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, as heir to the throne in 2017. Later that year, he arrested dozens of royals and business people, in what was billed as a move against corruption that was draining state coffers.
But the crown prince has fuelled resentment among some prominent branches of the ruling family by tightening his grip on power and some question his ability to lead following the 2018 murder of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents and a major attack on Saudi oil infrastructure last year, sources have told Reuters news agency.
The sources said royals seeking to change the line of succession view Prince Ahmed, King Salman's only surviving full brother, as a possible choice who would have the support of family members, the security apparatus and some Western powers.
In late 2018, a video emerged of Prince Ahmed facing protesters outside his London residence and in which he seemed to criticise King Salman and his crown prince for the war in Yemen
"Don't blame the entire family ... Those responsible are the king and his crown prince" he said. "In Yemen and elsewhere, our hope is that the war ends today before tomorrow."
Though Prince Ahmed quickly retracted his comments, insisting that his words were taken out of context, messages of support and pledges of allegiance began pouring in. 
The 78-year-old also issued a statement to deny speculation that he was interested in the role of monarch. 
Prince Ahmed has largely kept a low profile since returning to Riyadh in October 2018 after two and a half months abroad. 
He was one of only three people on the Allegiance Council, made up of the ruling Al Saud family's senior members, who opposed Mohammed bin Salman becoming crown prince in June 2017, sources earlier said.
Mohammed bin Nayef's movements have reportedly been restricted and monitored since then.
Saudi insiders and Western diplomats say the family is unlikely to oppose MBS while the 84-year-old king remains alive, recognising that he is unlikely to turn against his favourite son. The monarch has delegated most responsibilities of rule to his son but still presides over weekly cabinet meetings and receives foreign dignitaries.
Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal, commenting from Doha, said the detentions were of "huge" significance.
"We are talking about two of the most senior members of the Saudi royal family," he said.
"What's prompted it is very difficult to ascertain, needless to say, because Saudis have a closed culture in terms of transparency and no media freedom.
"But these are two figures who have been under house arrest. They haven't been able to move freely for a very long time. The idea that they were trying to hatch some sort of coup is very far-fetched and difficult to see when considering the restraints they were under."

'Sign of nervousness'

The latest detentions come at a time of heightened tension with regional rival Iran and as Prince Mohammed implements ambitious social and economic reforms, including an initial public offering by oil giant Saudi Aramco on the domestic bourse last December.
Saudi Arabia is also the current chair for the Group of 20 (G20) major economies.
MBS has been lauded at home for easing social restrictions in the kingdom and opening up the economy.
But he has come under international criticism over a devastating war in Yemen, the murder of Khashoggi in the kingdom's Istanbul consulate and the detention of women's rights activists seen as part of a crackdown on dissent.
"Prince Mohammed is emboldened - he has already ousted any threats to his rise, and jailed or murdered critics of his regime without any repercussion," Becca Wasser, a policy analyst at the US-based RAND Corporation, said of the latest crackdown.
"This is a further step to shore up his power and a message to anyone - including royals - not to cross him."
Rami Khouri, a journalism professor at the American University of Beirut, echoed Wasser's sentiment, saying the idea of a coup being fomented was unlikely in light of the "immense, direct and brutal control" that the crown prince has over all of the kingdom's security agencies. 
"It is a sign of the nervousness of the crown prince and the people around him who rule Saudi Arabia because they probably expect that the king will either abdicate or pass away soon. They expect there might be some kind of challenge to the succession," Khouri said. 
"The critical thing about this, I think, is that it is the final affirmative confirmation, the seal on Mohammed bin Salman taking over the mantle of the Arab autocrats that used to be held by people like Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Hafez al-Assad." 

Saudi crackdown: King Salman's brother and nephew detained