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When Emperor Shaddam ordered the Harkonnens leave Arrakis and the Atreides to replace them, did he give an 'official' reason for doing so? By official, I mean a reason that would satisfy people so they would not suspect it's a setup to rid him of a potential political rival.

I seem to recall hearing somewhere Shaddam accused the Harkonnens of shoddy mining practices and failing to meet the quotas set out for them, but I can't remember where.

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Officially, the Emperor is honouring Atreides

The house Atreides was gaining popularity in the Landsraad (a form of parliament made of the Great Houses), to the point that Leto was sort-of considered as a successor for the Emperor (especially since he was related to Shaddam) And with popularity comes influence, so it is not surprise that the Emperor is trying to get bribe Atreides vote by giving them such important position.

So officially, Emperor is taking the fiefdom from a disgraced House Harkonnen and give the rightful recognition to the noble House Atreides. Unofficially (but visibly to everyone), he is buying more power for himself.

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The fief of Arrakis passes around the Great Houses every once in a while. The Harkonnens had it, I think, for eighty years. However, at least the pretense of the Harkonnens not being able to meet their spice quotas was used as an excuse.

Outside of the plot between the Emperor and the Harkonnens, I recall no reason or excuse for it being given to the Atreides in particular though.

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As far as I can tell, on the books it’s never explicitly stated what the official reason for the assignment of Arakis to the Atreides is. There are some remarks on the CHOAM being the one that assigns it to the Atreides which, in turn, is stated to be “controlled on the 56.7% by the Emperor” (or close to that effect)

It is generally implied although never explicitly stated that the Leto is a reference among a lot of the Houses that expect benefits from the CHOAM which derives a big part of those benefits from the spice.

This is later on explicitly confirmed on the latest Dune 2021 movie on the fact that the Emperor was official taking the control away from the Harkonen due to the insufficient performance of the mining (hence reduced benefits to the CHOAM). This this assignment was a reward for Leto and a punishment for the Harkonen.

This seems to be rooted on the hints on the books and, while never explicitly stated, it makes sense so I tend to take it as the official cause. Obviously the REAL motive is to get rid of Leto as he was becoming too popular.

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