It is now the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims the world round are to fast from sun rise to sun set in addition to reflecting on their religion and their life. It is the time when Muslims are too not only reach out to those less fortunate but also to feel themselves the pangs of hunger and suffering. It is also a time to cleanse and revitalize the body with the spirit of Ramadan.
However, at the same time that Ramadan is taking place, so are other changes both from within and outside of Saudi Arabia. All military and defense personnel have been recalled from leave or training and called back to their duty stations. Even expatriate workers in the medical sector have had their leaves cancelled and required to remain in the Kingdom.
Why? The answer is predominantly three-fold. Continuing demonstrations and uprisings are taking place in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province. These recent demonstrations have been larger and more organized than past demonstrations. There is concern that groups will travel and continue these demonstrations in the streets of Riyadh.
Further bans have been placed on Iran and its ability to export oil. Saudi Arabia increased its production to reduce oil prices and to prevent Iran from making as much revenue. Now, there are concerns that Iran might attempt to retaliate against Saudi Arabia.
Each year there are security concerns associated with Ramadan and the mass influx of pilgrims from around the world in to the Kingdom during the month of Ramadan. This always places security forces and medical personnel in Saudi Arabia on alert.
Other indications which further substantiate the increased concerns in the Kingdom include placement of Saudi’s industrial sector (which includes oil production and storage facilities) were recently transferred to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior. It is now the Ministry of Interior responsible for the protection and security of this vital sector and resource.
Prince Muqrin bin Abdul-Aziz was the head of Saudi’s Intelligence agency until just a few short days ago. He is now a special advisor to King Abdullah. In Prince Muqrin’s place is Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Prince Bandar is now both Secretary General of Saudi Arabia’s National Security Council and head of Saudi’s Intelligence Service.
Saudi Arabia is not hesitating to make changes in regards to both sensitive positions and sensitive facilities in order to protect its national interests.