By Caleb R Newton
One of the executed was Shia Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. The Saudis are, predominantly, Sunni Muslims, religiously opposed to the Shiites, while Iranians, the Saudis’ powerful Northern neighbor, are Shia.
The night after the execution announcement, the Saudi embassy in Iran was on fire at the hands of furious Iranian citizens religiously aligned with the executed cleric and shouting, “Death to Al Saud!” - Al Saud refers to the Saudi ruling family.
On Sunday, Jan. 3, the Saudis cut diplomatic relations with Iran in response to the Embassy attack. As reported by i24 News, “the United States responded to Saudi Arabia's Sunday decision to sever diplomatic ties with Iran by encouraging diplomatic engagement.” Russia expressed similar sentiments: a Jan. 4 tweet from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs states, “Interstate disputes should be settled at the negotiation table.”
The United States and Russia are trying their addictive diplomatic approach again, but “diplomatic engagement” in this situation is pointless. The reason for the Saudi/Iranian conflict is popular hatred based upon a religious-based power play - any “logical” political dispute has nothing to do with it.
It’s what comes next and what else already happened that entails serious consequences. The storming of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran is a potent battle in a people’s war not yet officially fought. The will and behaviors of the people are the real basis for the relations between countries, as liberal intergovernmentalism suggests as the basis for cooperation. The reverse is also true: people’s actions are the basis for conflict, meaning that violence from the people, as in the Embassy attack, is an indicator of potential serious conflict.
The same applies to the execution of the Sheikh by the Saudis. The action was, technically, done by a government, but what is a government besides a collection of people? Sheikh Al-Nimr’s execution was not a “political” action; it was another provocative harbinger of conflict, just like the Embassy storming.
As mentioned previously, the basis for all of the conflict beginning to boil over is a religious-based power play - the Saudis are of one sect of Islam, while the Iranians are of another, and the two are in existential conflict. Diplomatic solutions are meaningless and remind the observer of an attempt to reconcile by words a physical argument.
What can be done is to address the populist ideological issues that give rise to the conflict, although the West cannot attempt Islamic reform or affect reconciliation between the respective sects, which is precisely the basis for the issue.
One available method to address the conflict is the implementation of a system that does not allow for either the execution or the Embassy storming: an overhaul and streamlining of the global legal system would help tremendously. Turning the government into a court of procedures that implements a clear and explicit and person-centered law would remove the element of variable human power that always turns out badly.
Addressing the conflict is important, although it was termed by a French news station as a “War of Words.” On Jan. 4, two were killed in explosive attacks directed at Sunni mosques in Iraq, a nation which, recently declaring Iran as responsible for her survival, is shakily allied to the same politically and strongly allied in a common Shia heritage. The Iraqi mosque attacks are almost certainly born out of this newest spark in the Sunni/Shia conflict.
One could view the tension as an extension of the Syrian conflict, where Iran and Saudi Arabia are on opposite sides. Such lends more potential firepower to the conflict that could envelop other countries in the region.
It could be that the Iran Deal sent the Middle East over the edge in a new way. The Saudis never liked the Deal anyway, as it strengthens Iran who has never been on good terms with the Saudis.
Altogether, the issue is nothing new; the potential for conflict is the same potential that has been there for hundreds of years since the dawn of the Islamic rift. Still, it bodes well to pay attention and intelligently attempt to address the conflict, since interests are so interwoven on the face of the earth that international Islamic infighting easily affects most nations around the world in some way.
(Image: retrived from Google Images & edited)
[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]