Saudi Arabia has perpetrated a mass execution that puts ISIS’s beach beheadings to shame. Forty-seven heads rolled on Saturday. One of them belonged to Nimr al-Nimr, a revered Shi’ite cleric who had been sentenced to death for sermons in which he criticized the government (especially for its persecution of the country’s Shi’ite minority). His brother has been sentenced to be crucified.
This was done as the Saudis continue to drop American bombs on Shia in Yemen (boosting Al Qaeda there) and to hire jihadis to help ISIS and Al-Qaeda kill Shia in Syria.
It is no mystery why the Saudis are such brothers in arms with the Bin Ladenites, sharing both their hyper-sectarian aims and their gruesome methods. The Wahhabist Saudis and the Salafist terrorists are both “Takfiris”: theocratic, fundamentalist Sunnis who justify sectarian persecution and bloodshed on the grounds that their victims are not true Muslims, but apostates.
Both the Saudis and ISIS regularly behead people for apostasy. The Saudis just do it in white robes and with swords, while ISIS does it in black pajamas and with knives. Saudi Arabia (the older, bigger oil rich extremist theocracy between the two) has been aptly characterized as “An ISIS That Has Made It.” The Saudis are so sensitive about this obvious comparison, they threaten to sue anyone who makes it.
The House of Saud relies on the support of the country’s Wahhabi clerics for its divine right to rule. To appease the clerics and their threateningly zealous followers, the Saudis must constantly promote their extremist brand of Islam both within the country and internationally. They do this by using billions of petrodollars to finance both indoctrination (state-sponsored radical madrassas, media propaganda, etc) and jihad (the CIA-backed Afghan Jihad of the 80s, the CIA-backed Syrian Jihad underway now, etc). Saudi support for the Afghan Jihad resulted in the rise of Al Qaeda. Saudi support for the Syrian Jihad resulted in the rise of ISIS.
Since 2006, the Saudis have been obsessed with waging a proxy jihad against what it conceives as a burgeoning Iran-led “Shia Crescent” (including Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah, and Yemen) that threatens their interests in the region. This anti-Shia vendetta has been supported by its fellow Gulf sheikhdoms, the US, the EU, Turkey, and Israel.
Starting in 2011, this campaign went into overdrive in Syria, where the Saudis and their Western and regional allies have sided with and sponsored the Takfiri militants fighting to conquer and “cleanse” the Levant. That axis is being opposed by “Crescent” powers and by Russia.
In 2015, another front opened up in Yemen, where the Saudis began a US-supplied brutal air war against that country’s new Shiite Houthi government and a starvation blockade of its people. This war has helped the Takfiri terrorists of AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) conquer territory in the country.
With the beheading of Nimr, this proxy war between the Saudis and Iran has threatened to become a direct conflict. Enraged at the execution, Shi’ite protesters in Iran ransacked and firebombed the Saudi embassy. The Saudis reacted by completely breaking off diplomatic contact with Iran. Soon after, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Sudan slashed ties as well. It should be noted that Bahrain is a majority Shi’ite country oppressively ruled by Sunni governing minority.
Given how quickly the Gulf sheikdoms made such a serious break over an incident that involved no bloodshed and likely no state involvement (the Iranian government arrested several of the protesters), it seems likely that the Saudis were itching for an excuse to ramp up the conflict and hoped the execution of the cleric would provoke Iran into providing one.
The severing of diplomacy is often a prelude to full war. If a direct war between the Saudis and Iran were to break out, the blood-drenched chaos now afflicting the Middle East would widen even further. It would also pull each country’s allies even deeper into conflict, possibly leading to full-on direct war between Israel and Hezbollah, Turkey and Syria, even NATO and Russia.
We in America must demand that our government stop sending terror toys to Takfiris before the Saudis and their fellow travelers in ISIS and Al Qaeda precipitate a world war in which we could all lose our heads.
Read more by Dan Sanchez
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