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Saudi Shura opposes military conscription

Council wants opportunities for professional careers in military, not draft

Gulf News

Manama: Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council is against the compulsory military service for Saudis, Deputy Chairman of the Security Committee in the Shura Council, Maj. Gen. Abdul Hadi Al Amri said.

“The people of Saudi Arabia have always been loyal to their country and leaders, and will not hesitate or falter in their service and commitment against any aggression,” he said.

“The accord and harmony among citizens make military conscription for Saudis unnecessary. The Security Committee of the Council does not see the need to discuss a proposal for conscription as there are thousands of unemployed young people who want to take up careers in the armed forces and not be part of military conscription,” Al Amri said, quoted by Al Hayat daily on Monday.

Saudis have been regularly engaging, mainly on social media, in heated discussions about the merits of military draft.

Those who support it often say that young Saudi men had to be well trained and ready to contribute to the war effort whenever they are needed. They also say young men should become used to a harsh way of life that is vastly different from the comfort to which they are accustomed.

Those who oppose it often cite the need for young men to spend time and energy on acquiring skills that allow them to help push the country’s development in various areas, and not just the military field. They also say that opportunities in the army should be reserved for those who want to pursue a career in the military, not just to spend one year.

Al Amri in his statement carried on Monday expressed a similar view.

“Modern armies do not need huge numbers of people, but rather smart weapons. The current training facilities do not accommodate a large number of conscripts. The professional military forces have the power and the ability that allow them to confront any aggression, without the need for conscripts.”

Within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), only three countries have embraced the mandatory military service — Qatar adopted it in 2013, the UAE in 2014 and Kuwait reinstated it in 2017, after dropping it 16 years earlier.

According to latest figures, 11 of the 22 Arab counties have mandatory military service. Beside Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait, the list also includes Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Sudan.

Jordan dropped compulsory military service in 1994 while Lebanon cancelled it in 2007.

Morocco did away with the service in 2006 amid reports that Islamists were trying to infiltrate the army as part of their agenda.

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