January 10th, 2016.
The Execution of Sheikh Nimr.
Four of the executed were Shia dissidents, the rest were alleged al Qaeda terrorists apparently too extreme to graduate from the Saudi re-education centres and be redeployed abroad in the service of the Kingdom.
Given that four of the executed were Shia and it has been reported that forty three of the executed were beheaded while four were shot by firing squad, it seems logical to tentatively conclude that the four Shia dissidents including prominent cleric Sheikh Nimr al Nimr were shot whilst the al Qaeda men were beheaded.
The body of Sheikh Nimr was buried secretly, his family were not permitted even to bury him.
Sheikh Nimr Baqir al Nimr.
Sheikh Nimr lived and studied in Iran and Syria between 1979 and 1994, attaining the title Ayatollah , a title now held by only 49 living Shia clerics but a title far short of Grand Ayatollah which is the highest possible attainment for a living Shia cleric. In 1994 Sheikh Nimr returned to his Eastern Province hometown al Awamiyah.
Sheikh Nimr became the most prominent and outspoken internal Shia critic of the House of Saud, the clan who rule the Saudi nation as an absolute monarchy.
A Decade of Oppression.
Sheikh Nimr was first arrested in 2003 , reportedly for the heinous “crime” of leading prayers in his home village. He was arrested again in 2004 and 2006 and by this time Sheikh Nimr had reached the attention of the national secret police organisation the Mabahith.
After his 2006 arrest Sheikh Nimr was beaten but released after the people of his home village protested at his detention.
Undeterred by these oppressions Sheikh Nimr first achieved international prominence in 2007 when he released “A Petition of Honour and Dignity” his call for the reform of Saudi Arabia. The document called for ” freedom of belief for the Shia, who are considered heretics in Saudi Arabia” along with “liberty for Shias in the justice system and in education, including schools for girls, as well as the establishment of local government committees, and access for Shias to selection for higher status jobs.” (Source)
The petition was handed to the Governor of Eastern Province.
In 2009 a dispute erupted in Medina after the Saudi Religious police were seen video recording female Shia worshippers as they attended the graves of revered Shia figures in Medina. The upshot of which was an escalation in the scale of the oppression of the Saudi Shia minority.
These events led to a significant escalation in rhetoric from Sheikh Nimr, for the first time he raised the prospect of the secession of the Shia areas of Saudi Arabia, stating:
“Our dignity has been pawned away, and if it is not … restored, we will call for secession,” and “Our dignity is more precious than the unity of this land.”(Source)
Most of the Saudi oil industry that represents the nations entire economy almost is located in the Shia Eastern areas so these are very sensitive and unhappy subjects for the ruling Saudi clan.
This led to an arrest order being made for Sheikh Nimr and attempts to arrest family members, Nimr went into hiding until the storm apparently passed.
the Arab Spring begins.
Five years later the origins of the Arab Spring remain controversial and mysterious. My understanding is that the Arab Spring was a CIA project that sought to leverage the genuine sense of grievance within the Middle East in order to install Muslim Brotherhood governments across the region following the classic colour revolution model.
The participants on the ground were overwhelmingly unaware of these machinations and the protests were largely sincere in basis.
According to the leader of the Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah in his speech condemning the execution of Sheikh Nimr, elements of US intelligence contacted Sheikh Nimr and offered to supply weapons to the Saudi Shia, an offer that Sheikh Nimr refused.
It seems likely therefore that someone was reaching out to political activists in the Gulf in the 2010-2011 time frame and encouraging them to ignite protest movements.
January 2011- Protests Begin in Saudi Arabia.
The narrative of the Arab Spring in Saudi Arabia bears a remarkable similarity to the narrative we were given in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring protests began and where the first Government fell as a result.
In both Tunisia and Saudi Arabia the protests were inspired we are told by the self immolation of a single disgruntled individual, in the case of Saudi Arabia we are told that an unnamed 65 year old in Jizan self immolated on January 21st, 2011 and that protests began in the days following that event.
Political demonstrations are illegal in the Saudi Kingdom, an openly despotic state with no compunction whatsoever about conducting human rights abuses so every protest is a genuine act of bravery.
The protests in Saudi Arabia had multiple motivating issues and took place across the nation, with the Shia Eastern protests only one of several major streams of protest along with woman’s rights, and broader calls for reform and freedom.
Sheikh Nimr Speeches.
Several of Shiekh Nimr’s Arab Spring era speeches are on YouTube, the English translation provided by the MEMRI.
Judging by these samples Sheikh Nimr was an entertaining speaker, a lively and jovial figure, the antithesis of the fire breathing extremist of Hollywood Zionist fantasy.
The element of his speeches that the Saudi ruling clan found most unacceptable was probably his mockery of the Saudi state, the most amusing moment from his speech was the point at which he suggested the Saudi state should turn their “Iron Fist” against the “head of the snake”-Iran before concluding that if they ever tried to do so the Iron fist would be revealed to be a “cardboard fist.”
Saudi Ayatollah Shiekh Nimr Al-Nimr Dares Saudi Regime
The Crown Prince Nayyef Speech of July 2012.
In June 2012 Saudi Crown Prince Nayyef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud died. At the time of his death Nayyaf was Interior Minister, a post that he had held since 1975. Prince Nayyef’s offices had engaged in many human rights abuses during that time winning him many enemies.
In what in retrospect seems an act of foolishness in that it helped his enemies bysurrendering some of the moral high ground, Sheikh Nimr made no secret of his delight at Prince Nayyef’s demise and in the same month Nimr was arrested for the last time.
That does not justify Sheikh Nimr’s arrest or execution for a second and it must be remembered that Sheikh Nimr never said that anyone should be attacked or killed, not the House of Saud nor anyone else and therefore he undoubtedly deserves to be regarded as a martyr to tyranny and evil as personified by the House of Saud.
Saudi Cleric Nimr Al Nimr – Speech on the angel of death and Prince Nayyef
The Saudi authorities story regarding the arrest is so ridiculous it does not even bear repeating. Sheikh Nimr was driven off the road, his car was forced into a wall by the Saudi security forces and after that they shot him several times in the leg and tried to claim that men associated with Sheikh Nimr fired upon them. It was an unfunny joke.
Sheikh Nimr’s family were allowed to see him after a week, they reported that he was bruised and had broken teeth, the Saudis having apparently seen fit to torture him despite his serious wounds.
Soon after Sheikh Nimr’s arrest his wife Muna Jabir al-Shariyavi died in a New York hospital reportedly as the result of cancer.
Sheikh Nimr was sentenced to death in late 2014, fundamentally for questioning the legitimacy of the House of Saud to rule the nation that bears their name.
During the course of the court proceedings against him Sheikh Nimr was given an opportunity to save himself by recanting his views. He said:
“If injustice stops against Shiites in the east, then (at that point) I can have a different opinion, according to his brother, who attended court sessions and spoke to The Associated Press just days before the Oct. 2014 verdict.”
That was not the right answer and in October 2014 the sentence of death was pronounced.
Sheikh Nimr appealed against the death sentence imposed upon him to no avail.
The head of Iran’s military warned the House of Saud would “pay dearly” if they carried out the sentence.
In the year 2015 the long running Saudi-Iran rivalry intensified across the board. The Nuclear deal and partial rapprochement between Iran and the West was a terrible blow to Saudi Arabia who had been urging a Western military attack on Iran for many years.
In March 2015 Saudi Arabia and their Gulf allies began attacking Yemen in a bid to restore their man President Hadi to power after Houthi rebel groups overran much of Yemen and Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia. After nine months and thousands of air strikes and civilian deaths, the Saudi coalition have made almost no progress and numerous Saudi military facilities have been subjected to cross border raids by Houthi fighters.
The decision to attack Yemen was an act of supreme foolishness as Yemen is historically the Afghanistan of the Arab world, no-one ever wins a war there, ever, and far more capable parties than the Saudis have tried and failed to do so. The Egyptian Military fought in Yemen for a decade from the early 1960s onward and achieved nothing but losses and exhaustion. Egypt deployed more than 50,000 soldiers in Yemen at the height of the operation.
Whereas in Yemen Saudi Arabia is the head of the gang in Syria they are just one of many members of a large gang that includes the US, France and Britain along with the anti Iran regional alliance.
The coalition Saudi Arabia represents have been stunned and enraged by the Russian entrance into the Syrian war which in a single stroke ended all hope for the violent overthrow of the Syrian state.
Things are not going well for the House of Saud and there are signs of internal power struggles within the ruling clan and the decision to execute Sheikh Nimr appears to have been borne of rage and frustration and also an attempt to ignite Sunni Shia sectarian tensions.
One of the few cards left to play for the politically bankrupt House of Saud. The killing of Sheikh Nimr at the start of 2016 was little more than the foot stamping of a petulant child who caannot get it’s way.
More than a week after the execution the anti Saudi protests continue from Bahrain to Germany ,India and Pakistan to London. The peaceful protests were overshadowed somewhat by the sacking of the Saudi Tehran Embassy and the Mashad consulate.
Iran backlash: Saudi embassy stormed over execution of cleric Nimr al-Nim
No-one was harmed but the Iranian authorities should have prevented these actions which only served to enable the Saudis to play the victim and obscure their evil execution of Sheikh Nimr.
Saudi Arabia and several Gulf states and other Saudi lackeys cut diplomatic ties with Iran in response.
In Iraq the new Saudi embassy was struck with rocket fire, (the building was empty, the embassy was yet to be opened.) Elsewhere there were outpourings of rage, against the execution of Sheikh Nimr and the poisonous Wahhabist ideology in general.
Iraq: Newly opened Saudi embassy in Baghdad struck by rocket after Sheikh Nimr’s execution
Sunni and Shia- Who are the Sectarians?
The relative merits of any of the various streams of Islam are beyond the purview of this site. As a non-Muslim it would be absolutely ridiculous to try to judge the authenticity of different schools of the faith. The fact is that there are more than a billion Sunni Muslims, hundreds of millions of Shia Muslims and there has long been a very obvious divide and conquer plot to set these sects against one another.
Some basic human principles can be applied to understanding this situation. There should never be political conflict based upon religious identity of any kind.
Even overtly negative religious practices such as those of some dark occultists should be protected because religious freedom should be absolute.
No sect or group should be above the law should they engage in criminal conduct but no system of belief should be criminalised no matter how reprehensible it seems and no system of belief should ever be forced upon people no matter how supposedly positive.
Wahhabism, the school of Sunni Islam that functions as the state religion, transgresses upon these boundaries. Wahhabists regard Shia Muslims as heretics, and within the Wahhabist strain of Islam are those who openly advocate their killing.
Author and scholar David Livingstone asserts that Wahhabism and the related Salafi schools were the concoctions of the Western elite designed to demonise and destroy genuine traditional Islam.
There seems to be a great deal of merit in this hypothesis but the unfortunate truth appears to be that the Wahabist doctrine is entrenched in the culture of the Gulf States at this point in time and as emotionally satisfying as the “Death to the House of Saud” chants may be it is very hard to see the successors to the despicable ruling monarchs being an improvement.
The most likely successor in the near future would be the “puppet maniacs” of al Qaeda and/or Daesh, the revolutionary collapse of the Gulf monarchies would likely be a disaster in the current political climate and yet serious reform is hard to imagine and history indicates that absolute monarchies are doomed to reform or be violently destroyed.
The Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir is the first person outside the House of Saud to become a Saudi minister, which could be seen as a small positive step back from absolute monarchy but given that Adel al Jubeir is every bit as evil and low as any members of the Royal Family, possibly more so, it is hard to see that anything has improved and there is little prospect of reform in the nation known as Saudi Arabia (like calling Britain Windsor Britain) or the other despotic Gulf monarchies and the best thing for the world would be the switch to alternative energy sources and the end of the oil industry in it’s current form.
Saudi Arabia is at war with Iran whether the Iranians realise this or not. The engineered Haj disaster and the despicable Saudi response made this all too clear.
The Iranians were naive to imagine that the Saudi have an ounce of honour, they have none and until the House of Saud falls or the leadership changes no Iranian officials of any importance should be allowed to travel to Saudi Arabia, Hajj or no Hajj lest the criminal Riyadh regime repeat their evil antics of last year.
Saudi Arabia will never be able to initiate a shooting war with Iran and the same is true for Iran. There is no possibility of any type of war between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the near or even mid-term future because for the Saudis part, their ineffectual and corrupt military would be turned to dust if they ever raised a hand against Iran and for the Iranians part any attack on Saudi Arabia would be an act of suicidal insanity as it would provoke a military response from the United States who cannot possibly sit by and allow the site of many of their most important Middle East bases to be attacked.
The leadership of Iran are not suicidal maniacs, Iran has no interest in any type of armed confrontation with the United States, hence their decision to make the Nuclear deal.
Therefore the proxy wars will drag on, the people of Yemen and Syria will continue to suffer but there is no realistic prospect of an Iran-Saudi Arabia war in the conventional sense.
As for Sheikh Nimr, he set a good example to political dissidents everywhere, he conducted himself with honour and dignity and he will be remembered warmly long after the low and venal Saudi clan are gone and forgotten.
Saudi Arabia: Hundreds decry Sheikh Nimr’s execution in Qatif
UK: Sheikh Nimr protesters rail against govt. support for Saudi Arabia