Saudi National Guard becomes a ministry
Riyadh, May 27, 2013
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah named his son to head a new National Guard ministry on Monday, strengthening the force's role in the kingdom.
The elevation of Prince Miteb, which state media said came in a royal decree, has few strategic or military implications but bolsters his credentials within the ruling family.
"With this ministry, Miteb will have a stronger role to play. It gives the National Guard more authority, better structure and a larger institutional budget," said Abdulaziz Al-Sager, head of the Gulf Research Centre in Jeddah.
The new ministry will be formed from the existing Presidency of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, based in Riyadh. Beside its military duties, the guard runs large social welfare and health programmes for families of guardsmen.
Saudi Arabia has appointed leading younger members of the ruling family to senior posts over the past 18 months, including the interior ministry and governorships of Riyadh and Eastern Province, two of the most important districts.
Miteb's promotion also augments the special status of the National Guard, commanded by King Abdullah from 1962-2010, as separate from the kingdom's conventional armed forces, run by Defence Minister Crown Prince Salman.
According to a 2011 IHS Jane's Sentinel Country Risk Assessments estimate, the National Guard has 100,000 personnel, compared to 75,000 for the regular army, 34,000 for the air force and 15,500 for the navy. - Reuters
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