The decision by Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud to sack Minister of National Guard Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, the favorite son of the late King Abdullah, is intended to remove a potential powerful rival of his own favorite son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Mutaib's ouster is the most crucial part of a large-scale wave of arrests in the kingdom that suggests deep opposition to the young prince's ambitions.
The Saudi Arabian National Guard was the creation of King Abdullah in the 1950s and 1960s. It has been the power center for the Abdullah wing of the family and the Shammar tribe for over a half-century. The National Guard was originally designed to be a counter-coup force to defend the royal family from revolutionary plots in the regular army. It is deployed in the capital and holy cities as well as along the borders. It was a crucial player in the forced abdication of King Saud in 1964 that brought Faisal to the throne, and it bore the brunt of the fighting for the recovery of the holy mosque in Mecca from religious extremists in 1979.