Saudi Arabia vs. Iran: America's Shia problem

Author: Michael Desch

Saudi Arabia's execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr on charges of terrorism exposes both the fragility and the brutality of the Saudi regime.  The Shia represent only about 15% of Saudi Arabia’s population and they feel persecuted by the dominant fundamentalist Sunni regime.  They are increasingly speaking out and protesting, as was the recently executed Shia Sheikh, but unlike in Yemen or Lebanon, Saudi Shia have for the most part not taken up arms.  As with the House of Saud's pandering to Sunni fundamentalist Wahhabi clerics, repressing Saudi Shia may shore up their domestic power in the short-run, but it is likely to backfire over the longer run, undermining both Saudi and U.S. national interests in the process...

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