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Bursts of gunfire were suddenly heard in the skies of Riyadh on Saturday night (April 21, 2018), which filled the atmosphere with panic and uncertainty, sparking fears that an armed coup was underway in Saudi Arabia. Initially, the official Saudi Press Agency said nothing about the incident, but some social media websites reported that the area near the sprawling royal palace in Riyadh rang with firing. Amid this chaos and confusion, various reports stated that the Saudi Arabia’s King, Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, and his son, Mohammad bin Salman had been evacuated from the palace to some other safe place. Later, a statement published by the official press agency said that the King was not present at the palace during the incident, but most sources confirmed that he and his son were taken away from the palace owing to danger. 

Afterwards, the official spokesman of Riyadh police was quoted by the state-run news agency SPA as having said that security forces shot down an unauthorized, small recreational drone after spotting it at a security point in Khuzama neighborhood of the city around 7:50 p.m. The report gave no information about who had been controlling the drone and said that police were investigating the incident.
 
The reasons of fear and panic that gripped the the royal palace are quite clear. Two days prior to this incident, four Saudi police officers were killed and four others injured during an attack on a police check point in Asir province. An official statement issued in this connection said that the attacker was a Saudi citizen. Last year, a firing incident also took place outside a royal palace in western Saudi city of Jeddah, resulting in the death of two security guards. Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry in a statement said that a 29-year-old attacker drove up to the gates of the Al-Salam palace before opening fire with an assault rifle, wounding three others before being shot dead by royal guards. Shortly before this incident, a Saudi soldier was killed and two others injured when an explosive device went off during a patrol in the eastern Qatif province.
 
The recent incident has been reported by Arab sources, according to which heavy firing occurred in Saudi Arabia's royal palace and resultantly King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman were moved from the place to some other location in a military truck. The reports said that the shots were initially fired with small weapons and the firing continued for about an hour. The question still being raised is what the cause of such intense firing was when only a toy drone was to be neutralized. It appears from the statement issued by the police that the firing suddenly started due to the automatic security system which was installed there. Nevertheless, different kinds of rumours were doing rounds with respect to this incident. One point being raised is that there were no signs of firing in the sky as traces of bullets and light should had been spotted in the air while the drone was being downed, but no such picture could be posted. But contrary to this, some Saudi citizens, who were viewing the situation somewhat closely, reported that the firing took place inside the palace, and also posting some pictures and video clips on some social networking sites to corroborate their claims. These kinds of reports strengthen the perception that perhaps the situation is different from what the official sources have depicted. That was why some started making conjectures that some kind of a rebellion had taken place inside the palace.
 
A recently surfaced news report, quoting a Saudi political official Ghannam Al-Dossari as having said that the attack on the royal palace in Riyadh was carried out by the supporters of former Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Nayef, reinforces this possibility. According to the Saudi official, there is likelihood that the palace could be attacked again anytime. He further said that the Saudi government was making unsuccessful efforts to hide the details of this significant incident, but it (the government) would fail in it. He said that Mohammad bin Salman wanted to strengthen his grip on power by yielding to all the American demands, but he was facing severe opposition internally. Some had also said that there were chances of a military coup in Saudi Arabia. It is worth mentioning in this regard that the former crown prince Muhammad bin Nayef is considered very close to security-related institutions. Although Mohammed Bin Salman has made extensive changes in the military and security leadership, but the possibility that there are still people serving in important positions in the country’s security apparatus whose sympathies are with the former crown prince and other princes can’t be ruled out.  Some analysts have also raised the question that why Saudi Air Force did not scramble its fighters and why military helicopters didn’t appear in the sky in the emergency situation to shoot down the drone. There are reasons behind all these rumors. It has not been long that several princes and princesses had been arrested. Matters were settled with some of them and resultantly they were freed, but many members belonging to the royal family are still facing detention.
 
Even religious scholars and preachers are not spared and the news about the arrests made in this connection has been reported worldwide. A video has surfaced recently in which a preacher can be heard criticizing Mohammed Bin Salman's talk of liberalism and moderation and then how the royal police dragged him is part of this video. Conservative religious circles certainly do not accept Muhammad Bin Salman’s recent steps including opening of a cinema in Riyadh after the inauguration of a casino in the country. Other such measures are also being taken one after another.
 
Under these circumstances, the fear and anxiety that absorbed the royal palace could be understood. Talking on this state of affairs, some commented that if a toy drone could be so nerve-racking, then what would be the situation and the outcome if on some day a missile is really seen in the skies near the palace, and looking at the massacres that the Saudi Royal Air Force is carrying out of Yemeni people by raining down bombs every day in Yemen, there is likelihood of such a scenario to occur. The Yemeni forces defending their motherland have acquired such missiles that they have fired towards several Saudi cities besides Riyadh, and some among these missiles have also hit their targets. For the Saudi King and his inexperienced crown prince, external and internal issues are getting bigger with every passing day. Maybe he, someday, could see with open eyes the image of his horrible future.

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