How the Saudis’ fear of ISIS may have been behind the decision to execute Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr


Nibras Kazimi writes: Far more than al-Qaeda, the Islamic State has focused on the danger posed by Saudi Shias to ‘Sunnidom’ and had castigated the House of Saud as de facto protectors of the Shia.

Al-Nimr was specifically mentioned in a speech made by the Nejd (Central Saudi Arabia) ‘Province’ of the Islamic State in October 2015. The unidentified speaker alleged that al-Nimr was spearheading the secession of the eastern section of Saudi Arabia, where a large minority of Shias reside. According to the speaker, the House of Saud are in collusion with foreign plans to weaken Sunnis by allowing the Shias to break off and create a pro-Iran satellite state.

This rhetorical tussle between the Saudis and IS bears the element of taunting, with the latter asserting that the royals had lost their ‘virility’.

‘Caliph’ al-Baghdadi makes this point clear in his May 2015 audio speech when speaking about the Saudi military campaign against the Houthis in Yemen, what the Saudis call the ‘Storm of Decisiveness’:

“For it is only a ‘storm of delusion’ after the fires of the [Shias] had lapped at their thrones and their encroachment has reached our people in the Arabian Peninsula, which will lead lay Muslims to find refuge in the Islamic State because it is their defender, and this terrifies the [House of Saud] and the rulers of the Arabian Peninsula and shakes their bastions and that is the secret of their alleged ‘storm’ and, God willing, it shall be the [cause of their] demise. For the [House of Saud] and the rulers of the Arabian Peninsula are not people of warfare, and they do not have the patience for it, and they are people of luxury and frivolity, and people of drunkenness and dancing and banquets, who have acquiesced to the protection afforded to them by the Jews and Crusaders..”

This sort of taunting is not new to the Saudis. Nor is their counter reaction to prove their anti-Shia credentials from time to time. What is different nowadays is the scale of it, and the degree to which both sides are willing to go. [Continue reading…]

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