News / Middle East

Saudi King Names Son to Run New Ministry

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at opening of the Gulf Cooperation Council summit, Riyadh, May 10, 2011.King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at opening of the Gulf Cooperation Council summit, Riyadh, May 10, 2011.
x
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at opening of the Gulf Cooperation Council summit, Riyadh, May 10, 2011.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at opening of the Gulf Cooperation Council summit, Riyadh, May 10, 2011.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— 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 as the ruling family grapples with the transfer of power towards a younger generation.
 
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 Center 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 programs 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.
 
King Abdullah turns 90 this year; Crown Prince Salman will be 77. The next generation of Saudi leaders, including Prince Miteb, are mostly in their 50s and 60s.
 
In a country where top posts are often held for decades, the moves represent a changing of the guard for the inner circles of a family where major decisions are based on a consensus of views among senior princes.
 
Unlike in European monarchies, the Saudi succession does not move from father to eldest son, but has instead passed down a line of brothers born to the kingdom's founder, King Abdulaziz, that include both King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman.
 
However, that line is nearly exhausted and the ruling al-Saud must soon work out which of King Abdulaziz's grandsons is best placed to one day become the monarch.
 
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 Defense Minister Crown Prince Salman.
 
Originally based on the tribal fighters who helped King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud create the modern Saudi state in the early 20th century, the national guard later helped guard against possible coups d'etat by the regular army.
 
Although such coups are no longer seen as a risk, the force has retained an important role in both the Saudi military and as a link to the country's main tribes.
 
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.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid