Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Saudi Arabia announced that an unnamed foreign country - normally code for Iran - was responsible for unrest in its Eastern Province, after armed men opened fire on police during a protest near the city of al-Qatif on Monday.Eleven Saudi security personnel and three protesters were wounded when security forces clashed with protesters and a group of armed men opened up onthe Saudi forces with automatic weapons and Molotov cocktails.
“A group of instigators inspired by a foreign country gathered in al-Awwamiya village near Qatif at 9pm on Monday and tried to undermine security,” an interior ministry official was quoted as saying in a statement to the Saudi press agency.
While the majority of Saudis are Sunni and live in the western part of the country near the Red Sea where Riyadh and Mecca are located, the Eastern part of the country near the Persian Gulf is home to Saudi Arabia's largely Shi'ite underclass. Just coincidentally, the East is also where the oil is.
The Saudis, aided by the British( who wanted that oil and saw Ibn-Saud as a reliable ally) conquered the Eastern Province in 1925, and its Shi'ites, about 10% of the Saudi population have been subjugated ever since.
Iran sees this as an opportunity to joust with the Saudis, just as it attempted to do using the Shi'ites in Bahrain. The tactic of using an armed militia enveloped in sectarian protests is a time-honored tactic the mullahs used in Lebanon and in Iraq.
This is not the first protest by Shi'ites in the Qatif area. One demand has been the withdrawal of Saudi forces from Bahrain, a goal that means little to Saudi Shi'ites compared with other issues but one that means a lot to Iran. Who's pulling the strings is fairly obvious.
Nor is Qatif a random location. It's close to some major installations in the Saudi oil infrastructure like the Abqaiq processing center, which handles about 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s production.
Expect further protests and unrest in this area...courtesy of Iran.