from the when-elephants-argue-it-is-hard-on-the-ants dept.
Protest in Tehran after Saudis execute Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr
Saudi Arabia said Saturday it had executed 47 people in a single day, including a dissident Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, who had repeatedly spoken out against the government and the Saudi royal family.
Nimr had been convicted of inciting sectarian strife, sedition and other charges following his 2012 arrest.
Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival, summoned the Saudi ambassador in Tehran to condemn the execution, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. The Shiite-majority nation issued a statement deploring the execution and warning that Saudi Arabia would pay a heavy price for its policies.
Iranian Protesters Ransack Saudi Embassy After Execution of Shiite Cleric
Iranian protesters ransacked and set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran on Saturday after Saudi Arabia executed an outspoken Shiite cleric who had criticized the kingdom's treatment of its Shiite minority.
The executions coincided with increased attacks in Saudi Arabia by the jihadists of the Islamic State and an escalating rivalry between the Sunni monarchy and Shiite Iran that is playing out in conflicts in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. Sheikh Nimr was an outspoken critic of the Saudi monarchy and was adopted as a symbolic leader by Shiite protesters in several Persian Gulf countries during the Arab Spring uprisings.
[More after the break.]
Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran as row over cleric's death escalates
Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran on Sunday, responding to the storming of its embassy in Tehran in an escalating row between the rival Middle East powers over Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite Muslim cleric.
Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference in Riyadh that the envoy of Shi'ite Iran had been asked to quit Saudi Arabia within 48 hours. The kingdom, he said, would not allow the Islamic republic to undermine its security.
Jubeir said the attack in Tehran was in line with what he said were earlier Iranian assaults on foreign embassies there and with Iranian policies of destabilizing the region by creating "terrorist cells" in Saudi Arabia.Speaking on Iranian state television, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in Tehran's first response that by cutting diplomatic ties, Riyadh could not cover up "its major mistake of executing Sheikh Nimr".
The United States, Saudi Arabia's biggest backer in the West, responded by encouraging diplomatic engagement and calling for leaders in the region to take "affirmative steps" to reduce tensions
So what do you think; Is this another normal spat between regional leaders looking for their interest on the region, or a signal of worse things to come?
Ahead of the US president's visit to Saudi Arabia, a series of multi-billion-dollar arms deals have been outlined. The previous US administration suspended some supplies because of human rights concerns.
When President Trump arrives in Riyadh this week, he will lay out his vision for a new regional security architecture White House officials call an “Arab NATO,” to guide the fight against terrorism and push back against Iran. As a cornerstone of the plan, Trump will also announce one of the largest arms-sales deals in history.
Behind the scenes, the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have been conducting extensive negotiations, led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The discussions began shortly after the presidential election, when Mohammed, known in Washington as “MBS,” sent a delegation to meet with Kushner and other Trump officials at Trump Tower.
After years of disillusionment with the Obama administration, the Saudi leadership was eager to do business. “They were willing to make a bet on Trump and on America,” a senior White House official said.
[...] The most concrete part of the idea is a mammoth U.S. arms package for Saudi Arabia that Trump will also announce in Riyadh. Final details are still being worked out, but officials said the package will include between $98 billion and $128 billion in arms sales. Over 10 years, total sales could reach $350 billion.
The sales include huge upgrades for the Saudi army and navy to include Littoral Combat Ships, THAAD missile defense systems, armored personnel carriers, missiles, bombs and munitions, officials said. Some of the production and assembly could be located in Saudi Arabia, boosting MBS’s project to build a Saudi domestic defense industrial capability. But most of the items would be built by American defense contractors.