Saudi Arabia’s armed forces present their skills during a military parade held a few days before this year’s Haj, near Makkah. Saudi Arabia is embarking on a modernisation of its defence forces in view of regional tensions, especially with Iran. Image Credit: EPA

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has prepared a plan to "rebuild and modernise" its armed forces as it confronts regional risks, military Chief of Staff General Hussain Al Qubail said.

The Saudi military "is closely following the successive developments in the Middle East and is fully aware of and understands the risks surrounding our country, which may pose a threat to national security", Al Qubail said in a speech, according to the official Saudi Press Agency. "With the support of our government [we] will be able to address those risks."

Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz oversaw the preparation of the plan, which will be presented to Defence Minister Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz at a later date, the Riyadh-based news service cited Al Qubail as saying.

King Abdullah appointed Prince Salman as defence minister on November 5 after naming Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz, 78, as the crown prince. The appointments followed the death of Crown Prince Sultan, who was also the defence minister, on October 22.

Tensions between predominantly Saudi Arabia and Iran have escalated this year. On October 11, the US accused Iran of plotting to assassinate Adel Al Jubair, the Saudi ambassador in Washington. A week earlier, Saudi Arabia accused an unidentified foreign country of seeking to undermine the stability of the kingdom after an attack on security forces in the Shiite village of Awwamiya.

The "surrounding circumstances require" increasing efforts "so that the Saudi armed forces be in the highest degree of combat readiness", Al Qubail was cited as saying by the news service.