Saudi Arabia allows women to join military, promotes female to high-level post

It follows a massive shake-up of the military's top brass, as well as the heads of the ground forces and air defence.

A series of political appointments were also announced on Monday night, including the rare appointment of a female Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Development, Tamadar bint Yousef al-Ramah.

The changes, announced in a string of royal decrees late Monday by King Salman, came a month before the third anniversary of the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemen war.

First Lieutenant General Fayyad bin Hamed al-Ruwayli was named as the new Chief of Staff.

These reforms are part of a larger effort by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to modernize the country.

State media said, however, the decisions were taken "upon the recommendation" of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also defence minister and widely seen as the power behind the throne.

Saudi officials showed their interest in investing in Pakistan in many sectors including petrochemicals, dairy, livestock, mining and others. Mohammed bin Salman has consolidated tremendous power and pushed for a rapid transformation of the kingdom, backed by a millennial generation that is hungry for change.

Most detainees, including global investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, were released after being exonerated or reaching financial settlements with the government, which says it arranged to seize more than $100 billion through such deals.

Amnesty International UK's Director, Kate Allen, also said, "Time and time again, UK ministers have turned a blind eye to Saudi Arabia's atrocious human rights record - barely mentioning the country's crackdown on peaceful opposition figures, or the alarming prevalence of torture, unfair trials and grisly executions".

Speaking on Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Prince Mohammed said he had been unfairly criticized for pressuring Hariri to resign in November.

"But, and this is a big "but", he is not appointing them to positions in the central government, at least not yet", said Gause.

The 32-year-old crown prince MBS has pledged to implement reforms to wean the Sunni kingdom off oil exports, fuel job creation, and open up Saudis' cloistered lifestyles.

Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia enrages Iran with the execution in January 2016 of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, among a group of 47 people convicted of "terrorism".

Greg Gause, a Gulf expert at Texas A&M University, said the injection of more junior officials could help the crown prince cultivate a bloc within the royal family that is supportive of him at younger levels.


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