Nov 16, 2017

Uncertainty looms after Saudi crown prince’s purge

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, May 2017. Photo: Pavel Golovkin / AP

With the arrests of eleven princes and some 200 tycoons in Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made clear that he will resort to any means necessary to solidify his ascent to power upon the death or abdication of his 81-year-old father, King Salman.

In the short term, this crackdown — especially the arrest of prince al-Waleed bin Talal, Saudi Arabia's richest businessman with a net worth of nearly $19 billion — could dampen foreign investment interest in the crown prince's Vision 2030 initiative. The much-heralded program aims to to deliver economic growth by strengthening private companies outside the oil sector. Key to its success is the forthcoming sale on world stock exchanges of 5% of the gigantic state oil company, Aramco, which the crown prince hopes will produce $100 billion.

Other ripple effects could well threaten the House of Saud's stability for years to come. The arrest of Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, commander of the Saudi National Guard, signals further strain on the already enormous tensions and resentments within the royal family.

The bottom line:

There is no precedent in Saudi Arabia's history for the crown prince's sweeping purge, and other surprises will await the kingdom under a 32-year-old upstart prince of still unproven abilities.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 65,691 — Total deaths: 30,438 — Total recoveries: 139,263.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 119,748 — Total deaths: 1,991 — Total recoveries: 921.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. He signed a $2 trillion stimulus bill to give businesses and U.S. workers financial relief.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters that supported Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are now balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
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Infant dies after testing positive for coronavirus in Chicago

Hospital staff working inside a COVID-19 screening tent in Chicago on March 26. Photo: Jim Vondruska/NurPhoto via Getty Images

An infant less than one year old died in Chicago, Illinois after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, the state health department said on Saturday.

Why it matters: The death would mark the first reported infant mortality from COVID-19 in the U.S. The fatality rate for the novel coronavirus in the U.S. is highest among those over 85 years old, per the CDC.

Trump weighs quarantine of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump said on Saturday he is considering a "short term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut — states that have already taken steps to quarantine residents and promote social distancing.

The big picture: With 112,000 people infected, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health