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A nervous Saudi Arabia just launched a massive military exercise

A nervous Saudi Arabia just launched a massive military exercise

Armin Rosen | Business Insider

Saudi Arabia just launched what it describes as the largest war game in the country's history.

On February 14th, the "Northern Thunder" military exercise began, involving troops from 20 countries.

Saudi Arabia's state news describes Northern Thunder as "the largest military exercise of its kind in terms of the number of participating countries and qualitative military equipment."

David Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider that Riyadh's claims shouldn't be taken at face value — and that the exercise might not have a specific political objective either.

"Even year in recent years the Saudis announce some sort of 'biggest' military exercise, and people always try to find a message," Weinberg says, noting that Northern Thunder includes participants like Egypt, Pakistan and Oman "which have balked at recent Saudi military requests."

Still, the exercise comes at a time when Riyadh is badly in need of effective hard power projection.

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