On the very first day of the 2016 Saudi Arabia executes 47 people, including the key Shia cleric Sheikh Nimir al-Nimir.
While we in the west were exchanging New Year gifts and cheers, tens of innocent Shia advocates were executed.
Although the Saudi king is not known to be smart, he took “smart” advantage of the cheers and busy holiday news. Executing the most influential advocate on the day that is celebrated as the New Year in most part of the world and when millions of people are either drunk or on the stage of sugar induced hyperactivity is (unfortunately) a smart move.
Sheikh Nimir was shot and arrested in 2012 after he supported peaceful uprise of the Shia Muslims who demanded equal treatment by their “government”. He publically announced Shia should be treated based on basic human rights and dignity that Saudi Kingdom has violated for decades. Sheikh Nimir stated in his speeches:
“In any place he rules—Bahrain, here, in Yemen, in Egypt, or in any place—the unjust ruler is hated,” Nimr said. “Whoever defends the oppressor is his partner with him in oppression, and whoever is with the oppressed shares with him his reward from God.” He also denounced the king and his family as “tyrants,” saying: “We don’t accept al-Saud as rulers. We don’t accept them and want to remove them.” In another 2011 speech, Nimr said, “From the day I was born and to this day, I’ve never felt safe or secure in this country. We are not loyal to other countries or authorities, nor are we loyal to this country. What is this country? The regime that oppresses me? The regime that steals my money, sheds my blood, and violates my honor?”
He had been imprisoned in the Saudi prisons for eight years. However after his final arrest in 2012, he was sentenced to death in 2014; a sentencing which was postponed twice. Since his imprisonment and sentencing was not done through trial, no one knew the exact date of the execution, until January 1st when Saudi officials proudly announced his execution on state TV. As of now (1/4/16) there is no news on how and where Sheikh Nimir is going to be buried.
The fact that Saudi King feels so secure and confident to take such dangerous action needs in depth analyses. Who is supporting this kingdom that makes it believe it can do ANY thing without consequences? The answer might not be too hard to find but it sure is sad to know.
Saudi at UN:
The United Nations, an international organization meant to protect the rights of not only people but also environment and animals selected Faisal bin Hassan Trad of Saudi as the chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council, so technically Saudi has free ticket too. Although such decision did raise some “minor” concerns, nothing actually changed.
dom with the most human rights violations was nominated as independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council to oversee our rights. UN states “The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe”. A country that kills its own citizen, arrest advocates and treat minorities as second class citizen is now our go to person when we are oppressed?
Saudi and Funding Terror
In 2010, the guardian reported Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiban and now ISIS can be added to the list. “Saudi recruits for al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group are often motivated by a desire to contain Shiism and stem Iranian influence in the region—strategic objectives that Saudi media perpetuates ad infinitum,”writes Toby Mathiessen.
Although Hillary Clinton state “donors” in Saudi are funding the terror, it does not exclude the king from being the kindest donor.
All human rights NGOs and advocates have been warning that Saudi is funding terror groups yet governments intentionally ignore that. In a meeting, I asked a presenter from State Department why does not US pressure the Saudi to stop the findings, the answer I got was that “advocates have such claim but we could not prove that”.
Saudi is an Ally
Since 1940, the extent of Saudi oil resources had become known to US- this country has become one of the closest allies of the US. Also, billion of dollars that Saudi spent to buy arms from us make this kingdom a better friend. And finally Saudi is our best body in keeping our side in Middle East although Saudis hate Americans. In fact “Anti-Shiite (and anti-Christian and anti-Jewish) incitement is spread across the region by Saudi-based television channels” reports The Atlantic,” reports David Graham.
How Sheikh Nimir’s Execution Will Change the 2016
Sheikh Nimir’s execution fueled tension in many countries. It limited diplomatic relationships between a number of Golf countries and Iran after harsh reaction of Iranians at the Saudi Embassy in this county.
No Hajj for Iranians
Saudi and Iran did not have good relationship, especially after acknowledgment that Saudi officials sexually harassed Shia pilgrims at the airport which resulted in stopping the Omrah pilgrimage. Now ending diplomacy relationship will affect Hajj pilgrimage of 2016 for Iranian as well.
e for Shia in Golf Countries
Whether Shia live in Shia led country or Sunni led kingdoms, they will be facing more pressure. Bahrain for example, a neighboring Shia populated country that is run by Sunni rulers will pressure its Shia even more since they also reacted to the exclusion by protest and uprise. Therefore more Shia are expected to be detained or killed in Bahrain in 2016.
Lack of Trust in UN
Because of the shocking selection of the Saudi Fasel Bin Hassan as independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council, and lack of official reaction of UN to Saudi human rights violation, it makes sense for activist and even NGOs to lose trust in UN and its mission. Official Shia rights NGO in DC wrote to UN urging them to officially condemn the execution and also question Fasel Bin Hassan in addition to reviewing and rethinking his selection at UN. The letter was signed by number of other ECOSOC statues holders. This NGO urged UN to publish the investigation inquiry in a writing form.
Lack of Trust in World’s Leaders
Shia Muslims hoped world’s leaders with public human rights advocacy claims will help them, but the reality of the Sheikh Nimir’s execution proved different. In an interview with Yahoo news the brother of Sheikh blamed President Obama for failing to use his influence with the Saudi government to prevent Sheikh Nimir’s death. “I am sorry to say that the American government did not offer to make any efforts on this, although they knew the danger of this action and the repercussions,” Mohammed Al-Nimr whose son faces execution said.
Leaders have massages that even they themselves cannot carry lost respect and trust among people and that can lead to a desire to defend your right personally instead of trusting your leader to defend you. In a peaceful picture it is called protest but it can have an ugly non peaceful image, as well.
Faulty Association of Shia to Specific Governments
What has hurted Shia population for last three decades is associating them to specific country such as Iran and Iraq. In all countries that Shia are being oppressed, the local government accuses them as “Iranian affiliated”, or “an agent of Iran that wants to take over the Middle East leadership”. Where in reality, evidences prove that Shia are only protesting because they face too many oppression that cannot be covered up anymore. In an interview with Mustafa Akhwand, director of SRW, he was asked if Shia want to govern? “Shia of each country only demand their basic rights to dignity and equality, as soon as their government grant them freedom of religion and equal rights, they will leave protest lines and serve their country” he answered.
Iran was a Shia Country Before Revolution
Interesting enough, Iran and Saudi are known to have disagreements because one is Shia and other was is anti-Shia Wahabbi. The struggle started after the Iran Revolution and recognition of this country as Shia, where is reality Iran was a Shia country even during Shah leadership.
The fact that some countries such as Iran and Iraq claim Shia population in order to increase their own visibility in the region is only hurting this population as in NOT what Shia identify with.
Dropping in almost all stock’s value since the beginning of 2016 is a clear evidence that investors are not dummies. They do not invest in countries where leadership is weak and in unstable countries.
Sheikh Nimir’s unjust killing led to protest and anger, that is going to lead to instability, fear and anger and eventually a year 2016 is very likely to be a draining year.
One might conclude we live in a world where money of Saudis and political interest on western societies wins over human dignity, I would like conclude that blood of great men is powerful enough to break political borders and unite oppressed Shia to demand their rights, but peacefully until they get what they deserve, “living as rightful cit