The contest between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia has been a long-term reality. Now that Iran openly declares its aggressive intentions, nerves are tingling in Riyadh and Washington.
Current protests in Saudi Arabia are coming from the Saudi Arabian Shiite population. The Shiites total about 10-15 percent of the population and for years they have been victimized. They have been killed, indiscriminately arrested and some of their religious ceremonies have been forbidden. Shiite prayer services are frequently disrupted.
King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz would like to encourage better integration but must respond to Saudi Sunnis who jealously guard their majority.
The Royal family serve as the figurehead leaders for the entire Sunni sect and therefore the dominant force in the Moslem world.
That leadership is hungrily and aggressively sought by Iran which is not even Arab but Persian. The threat is echoed repeatedly by the Iranian establishment. Their brazen ambitions stir anger within the Sunni hierarchy who have been watching protests in the region with mounting concern.
Already, what is called the Shia Crescent is growing in assurance and authority. Made up of Lebanon, Hizbullah and Hamas, the Crescent promotes the ambitions of Shiite Iran.
It is the Shiite faction within the Saudi Arabian community who may be inspired, encouraged and even equipped by Iran to create instability within the Saudi Arabian society.
The Sunni Arabs have grave suspicions of Iranian activity in Iraq, where Nuri al-Maliki is thought to be an Iranian agent.
President Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), Colonel Muammar Khaddafi (Libya) and King Abdullah (Saudi Arabia) are three leaders who seemed to fit U.S. ambitions in the region.
Mubarak and Khaddafi have lost their value. It is not hard to believe Iran is now targeting the King.
‘A Day of Rage’ demonstration proclaimed for Friday fizzled and amounted to nothing. But the intention has been announced and repercussions are likely.
‘There is no history of public protests, even in support of the government,’ said Jaafar al-Shayeb, a city councilor and businessmen in al-Qatif,
The youth in Saudi Arabia may well be motivated to protest. Unemployment between the ages of 14 and 24 is 40%. Seventy percent of the national population is under 20.
Watch for changes in Saudi Arabia, even some effort to alleviate the demands of this young ambitious contingent.
The regime has said it will not tolerate the interference of foreigners in their national dialogue. Somehow I think they were referring to Iran.