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In Mapping the Saudi State, Chapter 5: The National Guard, ADHRB studies the light army that the Saudi government has organized to quell internal unrest and prevent coups d’état. Tracing its origins back to the radical Ikhwan fighters who helped solidify King Abdulaziz’s control of the Arabian Peninsula, the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) has become a well-equipped and mobile unit thanks to extensive assistance from the United States and the United Kingdom. Extending its responsibilities well beyond that of a typical reservist force, Saudi officials have aggressively employed the SANG to maintain order both at home and abroad, as demonstrated by their interventionist role in tamping down Bahrain’s democratic movement in 2011.
Chapter 5 ends with a list of recommendations for the Governments of Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the United Kingdom that would limit the SANG’s capacity, reforming them into a reservist force equipped to handle pressing emergencies rather than a standing army designed to uphold authoritarian order.
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