Saudi-Iran standoff will fuel Syrian fire
Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have already cut ties with Tehran.
The other was to send an unambiguous message to the Shia of the Eastern Province: all dissent from them will be crushed without mercy.
The initial reaction among the Shia minority to al-Nimr’s execution has been remarkably muted, with just a few hundred locals marching in his home town and brief clashes with security forces. That should not come as a surprise. For while the Eastern Province is the House of Saud’s Achilles heel, the Shia there are equally mindful that the only thing between them and the genocidal lunacy of Daesh is the Saudi royal family that oppresses, but does not massacre, them.
At the same time, there remains the risk that the Saudi royals miscalculated in executing al-Nimr.
For this new sectarian standoff could yet mushroom into a direct conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as the proxy wars they are fighting in Syria and Yemen spiral out of control and the prospects for peace deals and common ground are crushed. John R Bradley’s books include ‘Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis’
A demonstration against Iran in Peshawar, Pakistan, this week