“Shiite Rising,” by Christopher Dickey and Rod Nordland, Newsweek International, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4340977/site/newsweek/, 1 March 2004.
“Shiites See an Opening in Saudi Arabia: Municipal Vote in East Could Give Suppressed Minority Small Measure of Power,” by Scott Wilson, Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58262-2005Feb27.html, 28 February 2005 (from Crossroads Arabia through Liberals Against Terrorism).
“Marginalized Shiites stand up to be counted in Saudi local elections: Clerics encouraging community to vote,” by Ali Khalil, AFP, http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=13012, 28 February 2005 (from Liberals Against Terrorism).
Social unrest here has often been triggered by outside events, making Iraq’s recent elections particularly worrisome to Saudi leaders, who political analysts say opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq partly because of its potential effect on this region.
… forming a “Shia crescent”?
The prospect of even incremental Shiite political gain has alarmed Sunni Muslim leaders across the Middle East, who fear that long-suppressed Shiite communities such as this one astride the kingdom’s lifeblood oil industry will push for an ever-greater role in government. Sunni heads of state have warned the Bush administration that the democratic reform it is encouraging in Iraq and Saudi Arabia could result in a unified “crescent” of Shiite political power stretching from here through Lebanon, Iraq and into Iran.
Could result? But there are bigger prizes than Lebanon… Take a look:
Tell me those people, united by a sea, do not mind the violent intolerance of Wahabis in The Saudis’ Kingdom In Arabia or the Salafists in Iraq. Tell me that those people don’t know that the oil is under their feet and that the retrograde Sunni extremists are on the wrong side of history.
“People hurt when they see the milk from the cow flowing to the center and the west, with only a little staying here,” said Tayseer Khunaizi, a professor of finance at King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran. “Without the conquest of this region, the kingdom of bin Saud would never have survived. But deep inside of us, this is considered an occupation.”
As Newsweek said
All the countries in the region with large Shiite populationsâ€”all those that are sending pilgrims to Iraq’s ancient shrinesâ€”are watching these developments with rapt attention. Already you’re beginning to hear rhetoric that hasn’t been bruited since the height of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s power in Iran. Ali Al-Ahmed of the dissident Saudi Institute in Washington, for instance, says the world should stop talking about the Persian Gulf or, as the Arabs call it, the Arab Gulf. “It’s the Shia Gulf,” he says. “Look at the people who live around it, at least 90 percent of them are Shiites. The U.S. must take that into account. The Shiites are sitting on all that oil.”
For now, Shia in Tskia keep their heads down
“There is no particular Shiite interest in the municipal councils … There is national interest, and Shiites are part of this country,” the Dammam-based revered Shiite scholar told AFP.
But not for long.