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Saudi mufti renews call for forced military conscription

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikh
Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikh [File photo]

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh expressed his support for the idea of mandatory military conscription for Saudi citizens, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Speaking during his weekly interview with Nidaa Al Islam Radio from Mecca on Wednesday, Al-Sheikh said: “I would recommend training and conscription of Saudi youths, to make them ready to protect our religion and homeland.”

He went on to denounce Russian attacks on Aleppo, during which it was believed to have used lethal weapons to destroy hospitals, schools and houses.

The Saudi mufti praised the “Arabian Gulf Security One” exercises, which were completed on Wednesday night in Bahrain under the patronage of the Gulf State’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Naif, deputy premier and interior minister.

He added that those military tactical drills came in line with Saudi attempts to seek means of strength to protect the Gulf, which, he believes, has been targeted by enemies who envy its unity and wealth, and wish to destroy it. “The security of the Gulf states is a shared responsibility,” he added.

“The Islamic world should cooperate, be prepared, and seek means of strength through training and imposing compulsory conscription on youths, so that they would be capable of defending their country from enemies.”

The Arab Gulf states carried out a joint military exercise on Wednesday in Bahrain, which was held for the first time focusing on counterterrorism drills. The exercise started on 27 October.

“We will protect our religion and homeland, and we will build a strong security wall to respond to any threat to the peace and security of any Gulf state,” he added.

In April 2015, the Saudi mufti called for mandatory conscription, during a Friday sermon, following the start of the Arab coalition operations in Yemen in April 2015, which was led by the Saudi Army. “This measure is very important to our youth and makes the country ready to face any threat,” he added.

 Military service has not been compulsory in Saudi Arabia, where the armed forces have traditionally been built on volunteer recruits who serve on a full-time basis, in accordance to the Saudi Military Service Law.

Last August, Prince Mit’eb Bin Abdul-Aziz, the National Guard Minister, denied that Saudi was planning to impose conscription for its citizens, noting that there was enough voluntary recruitment

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