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Saudi Arabia’s Quiet Transition

Although the ascension the next generation of Saudi Arabia's princes is not a sign of reform, it is a major transformation in the kingdom’s leadership.
The body of Saudi Arabia's Prince Badr bin Abdul Aziz, former deputy commander of the National Guard is lifted during his funeral at Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh, April 2, 2013. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser (SAUDI ARABIA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY ROYALS OBITUARY) - RTXY5U5
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In the last year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has transitioned its top security posts from the generation that had been in office for a half century to a younger generation of princes who are now poised to inherit the last absolute monarchy in the world. The new leaders of Saudi Arabia’s security infrastructure are neither young nor inexperienced; rather, they are well prepared for their assignments at this critical juncture in their country’s history.

Late last month, King Abdullah promoted his son, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, to be the first ever minister of national guard, elevating the command of the kingdom’s elite security force to the level of a ministry and placing his son in the cabinet. The Saudi Arabian National Guard, or SANG, was commanded by Abdullah from 1962 until 2010. In the course of his half century in command of the SANG, Abdullah lavished on it the best weapons and equipment money could buy and turned it into the strongest military force in the country, larger and better led than the regular army. Over 100,000 strong and equipped with armored vehicles and helicopters, the SANG has been trained by American advisers since 1975.

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