As the New York Times reports, a new Saudi Arabian “anti-corruption” sweep has nabbed 11 princes of the extended royal family, including billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, as well as four sitting ministers and a great many former ministers. The alleged criminals are as of this writing cooling their heels, rumors suggest, at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh which is being turned into a holding center for royals and other officials who have been targeted. An airfield that services private planes has been closed as a measure to keep anyone else from fleeing the country.

How much corruption exists in the Kingdom?

Western journalists are uncertain how far-reaching corruption, as is generally understood to be, exists in Saudi Arabia. Trading Economics ranks Saudi Arabia as 63 on its corruption scale, as opposed to 18 for the United States and 131 for Russia. One of the least corrupt nations in the world is Switzerland with a rating of just five. So, it is clear that the Kingdom has a ways to go before it can tamp down the graft to levels in the western world.

It’s more about power than corruption

CNBC suspects that the sweep is more focused on removing people who are opposed to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the heir to the throne than it is waging war on corruption.

The most prominent royal to be caught up in the sweep has been Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a hugely wealthy billionaire and a critic of President Donald Trump, a man whom Prince bin Salman has been cultivating as an ally. Bin Talal also famously offered to give $10 million to the victims of the 9/11 attacks only to have the money rejected by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Bin Talal is said to be worth $32 billion. He is head of the investment firm Kingdom Holding and has considerable investments in a number of significant companies. More important from a power perspective, the prince controls a number of satellite networks watched by many across the Middle East.

Bin Salman is keen to enact reforms that will transform Saudi Arabia from a country dependent on oil revenues for its substance to one that has an economy based on high tech industries.

He is also anxious to improve the Kingdom’s human rights record, especially in regards to its treatment of women. Saudi women will be permitted to drive automobiles for the first time next summer primarily due to the Crown Prince’s initiative. Such a wrenching change in the tradition-bound country will likely be opposed on a number of fronts. Thus Crown Prince Bin Salman is moving to remove said opposition.