The Global Implications of the Execution Of Sheikh Nimr
6 January 2015
Last weekend n Saturday January 2 the government of Saudi Arabia executed the Shia Muslim Cleric Nimr al-Nimr for the crime of civil disobedience for which he was convicted in a show trial back in 2014. The execution of al-Nimr, along with 46 other victims, has caused shock waves of a social and political earthquake in the Middle East. The reverberations of this execution will be felt on every continent of the inhabitable world.
By igniting historic and ideological divisions of Islamic theology, this reckless act has set the stage for war and political strife in the entire Levant, Maghreb and the Sahel. The epicenter of the upheavals is in the Persian Gulf. No sooner has the announcement of al-Nimr's execution was announced, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran was attacked by mobs of Iranian Shia, some of whom set arson to the embassy. The three top political figures in Iran; Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif all issued blistering denunciations of the Saudi government. Iran's Supreme Leader proclaimed: "The decision makers of the Saudi government should not have any doubt that this blood will trouble them. It will haunt them."
Feigning indignation that Iran had predictably denounced the execution of al-Nimr, Saudi Arabia severed all diplomatic and later trade ties with Iran. The Iranian diplomatic corps was given 48 hours to leave Saudi Arabia. A couple of days later nearly all of the Gulf Cooperation Council nations such as Bahrain and United Arabic Emirates had also severed diplomatic ties with Iran. Qatar has recalled it's envoy from Tehran as has Kuwait. So far only Oman has maintained full diplomatic ties with Iran.
The Recent Background of Tensions
It's beyond the scope of this essay to explain the historical and theological split between Shia and Sunni Islam. It's also beyond the scope of the essay to discuss the role of Ottoman imperialism and later on Western imperialism in the rising of sectarian tensions and conflicts. One can only skim the origins of this recent conflict from the Iranian Revolution in 1979 through the Second Iraq war (2003-present) up until the Syrian War (2011-present). Apart from Saudi Arabia and Iran, the other major actors are Syria, Turkey Israel and the United States.
The source of this latest sectarian bloodletting is the recent rapprochement of Iran and the United States dating back to the the middle of the Obama Administration. Officially the diplomatic rapprochement between the two nation states was over Iran's alleged and non-existent nuclear weapons program. Though Iran is a major petroleum producer and exporter, it lacks refineries of its own. Thereby, Iran must in effect buy back its very own oil that's it produced and exported in the form of refined gasoline and other essential fuels. To become more energy independent and to reduce the trade deficit and foreign debt, the Iranian government sought to develop a civilian nuclear energy capacity. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is legally allowed to develop nuclear energy for domestic civilian needs. Iran has the same right to develop nuclear energy as Switzerland, Germany and Brazil. Despite a Fatwa issued against Iran ever developing nuclear weapons, the Israeli and Western propagandists set the narrative of a doomsday scenario of Iran obtaining "the bomb". Though there was a much more muted response when India and Pakistan joined the nuclear weapons club.
With the US and Israel threatening to use nuclear weapons against the country was well as an international economic blockade authorized by the United Nations, Iran had no choice but to find a negotiated settlement. Using Russia as a diplomatic attorney, Iran negotiated a compromise under the auspices of the UN sponsored P5+1.
Both Israel and Saudi Arabia made no secret of their opposition to any accommodation with Iran. Both countries have their own strategic rivalries with Iran. Iran is one of the few countries in the Middle East which Israel can't defeat militarily. Moreover, Israel jealously guards its position as the Middle East's sole, yet undeclared nuclear power. More fundamentally, Israel is at permanent war with Shia forces in Lebanon. Hezbollah is an ally of Iran and is officially funded and supported. Hezbollah inflicted defeat on the IDF during Israel's ill-fated misadventure in Lebanon in 2006. Still smarting from that defeat, Israel finds it paramount that Iran breaks out of economic and military containment. Israel has engaged in an operation of covert terror to destabilized both Iranian society and to retard Iran's nuclear development by kidnapping and assassinating the country's top nuclear scientists.
Saudi Arabia has more ideological conflicts with Iran. Both regimes are based on reactionary religious fundamentalism. Both regimes view themselves as the real "spiritual" guardians and exponents of the "true faith". Apart from their rivalries of mysticism, there are concrete strategic and economic contradictions. Saudi Arabia and Iran are fierce competitors in the petroleum market despite both being members of the cartel OPEC. The UN economic sanctions against Iran greatly profited Saudi Arabia. Moreover, like Israel, Saudi Arabia views Iran as a military enemy.
With these perspectives both Israel and Saudi Arabia were vehemently against any agreement between the West and Iran. With the agreement reached and ratified by the UN, Saudi Arabia was defeated in its goal. In an example of infantile regression combined with vindictive sadism, the execution of Sheikh Nimr was Saudi Arabia's act of vengeance against Iran.
Shiites Attacked From The Middle East To West Africa
Nonetheless, there is more here than meets the eye. Since the beginning of the war in Syria in 2011 right up through the execution of Shiekh Nimr, there has been an internationally coordinated war of state terror and repression against Shia Muslims all over the world. ISIS or Daesh is financed and armed by both Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and the United States. The notion of an "Islamic Caliphate" is based on the ideology of the Saudi Sunni Wahhabi sect. Most of the victims of Daesh are and have been Shia Muslims in addition to other members of Muslim minority sects as well as Christians. The targeting of the Shiites in Syria and Iraq by Daesh is the primary reason that Iran is militarily involved in the Syrian war.
The Shiites in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain live under systematic discrimination and repression. The most extreme example is in Bahrain where Shiites comprise more than two-thirds majority of the population but are brutally oppressed by the parasitic Sunni monarchy. Bahrain today is akin to South Africa during Apartheid. In 2011, Saudi Arabia sent tanks into Bahrain to drown the uprising by Shiites in blood.
There were two incidents in 2015 which illustrated the international hunt of Shiites. During a pilgrimage by Shiites in Mina, a stampede caused the deaths of more than 2,000 people. At least half of those killed were Iranian nationals. Rumors that it was caused by a passing military convoy of Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud and the subsequent lack of Saudi emergency rescue personnel made it appear that Saudi Arabia instigated the stampede or at the very least did too little to mitigate the disaster.
Much more recently another incident involving the military and the mass deaths of Shiites occurred in far away Nigeria. Between the dates of December 12-14 more than 1,000 Shiites were massacred by the Nigerian military. Sheikh El-Zakzaky, leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria was shot by the military during a raid on his home and religious compound killing one of his sons in the process. El-Zakzaky has been detained. Iran vehemently condemned the massacre and summonsed the Nigerian Ambassador to Tehran.
The beheading of Sheikh Nimr was the posion in the icing on the cake.
The "War on Terror" To Instigate Religious War
Standing behind all these incidents is the United States. The United States subsidizes Saudi Arabia economically and militarily. For the United States, Saudi Arabia has three functions. The first is that Saudi Arabia keeps the US currency afloat with the Petro-Dollar racket. Second, after Israel Saudi Arabia plays the key role in the maintenance of US military domination of the Middle East. With this arrangement, Saudi Arabia functions to keep Iran in check. Third, as the most backwards bastion of reaction and mysticism, Saudi Arabia maintains the status-quo through religious dictatorship, feudal monarchism and void of any civil, social, political or human rights.
While most of the alleged perpetrators behind 9/11 were Saudi nationals, the obvious question is why Afghanistan rather than Saudi Arabia was the first country attacked in the "War on Terror?" The answer is that Saudi Arabia has long been one of the the leading countries of state sponsored terrorism. Daesh and the execution of Sheikh Nimr are just two glaring examples.
It must be recalled that the only way that the US military was able to pacify Iraq was through the use of sectarian terrorism with ethnic cleansing. The "war on terror" is an excuse of state sponsored terrorism used by the US, UK, Israel under the guise of bringing "democracy". In reality, the "war on terror" has been used to arm and finance members of one sect against another. A religious war between Shia and Sunni Islam would most benefit Israel and the United States.
The Global Implications
Most non-Muslims not inhabiting Africa or the Middle East cannot comprehend the scale of the execution of Sheikh Nimr in its totality. Historically the closest parallel is the assassination of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo 1914. That was one of many triggers of the First World War. While the assassination of Franz Ferdinand ushered in the Fall of the Hapsburg, the execution of al-Nimr will bring about the fall of the House of Saud. The demise of Saudi Arabia will with absolute certainty be one of many causes of Global War becoming belligerent among the major powers.
To put the ramifications closer to home for the English speaking world, the execution of Sheikh Nimr will go down in history as the execution of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury on the orders of the English King Henry II back in the middle ages. Not to make too fine a point but the execution of Sheikh Nimr would be the equivalent of if the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Belfast Northern Ireland had been executed by the British government during "The Troubles".
There will be a delayed social reaction to this provocation in the Western countries. Conflicts between Shia and Sunni communities in Europe and North America will emerge. There will be reprisals against Sunni mosques and imams in various countries. This in turn will lead to greater fear and insecurity in the Western countries. More draconian legislation, such as currently being drafted in France, will only bring about more violence and repression.
Forget about 9/11, 7/7 or even 11/13. Those events were simply the opening acts for the definitive shock so far of the 21st Century. 1/2/16 will go down in history as the day human civilization died.
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