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Saudi cleric calls for military conscription

The Saudi Mufti's rulings have a major influence on government policy [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 11 April, 2015

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The Grand Mufti, Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority, has called for his country to impose compulsory military conscription.

The Grand Mufti, Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority, has called for his country to impose compulsory military conscription.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh made the comments during his Friday sermon in a mosque in Riyadh.

"We must prepare our youth for military conscription. If the nation is successful in implementing this, it would contribute to preparing the youth to carry out their duties. The nation needs to be ready," he said.



     We must train our youth and make military conscription compulsory.

- Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh

"We must train our youth and make military conscription compulsory for them to be there for us at the times of crisis and for them to shield us against every enemy."

The Grand Mufti's calls come two weeks into a Saudi-led military operation in Yemen to push back Houthi militiamen and forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who have advanced across the country since taking over the capital Sanaa in September.

Saudi Arabia says its actions are in response to a call by Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to militarily intervene and "protect Yemen and its population against the aggression of the Houthi militias" and to restore the legitimate government.

The Pakistani parliament voted on Friday against joining the Saudi-led coalition, which has dented Saudi hopes of receiving direct support from outside the region. the US has provided mid-air fuel refilling support and stepped up its arms deliveries, but Riyadh had asked Pakistan to provide it with ships, aircraft carriers and troops to take part in what is being seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Military service is not compulsory in Saudi Arabia, and National Guard minister Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz denied in August last year that the government intended to bring in compulsory conscription. He said many Saudis wanted to join the military, and claimed that numbers exceeded the actual need. Around 500,000 Saudis reach military age every year.

On Tuesday, the Kuwaiti parliament approved the National Military Service Law, which will make military service compulsory for Kuwaitis from 2017. Conscription was annulled in 2001.

The United Arab Emirates started implementing its own compulsory military service in August last year, forcing Emiratis who have completed 18 years of age to undergo military service. The UAE's move came four months after Qatar started military conscription.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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