In 632 the Prophet Mohammad died, leaving behind a struggle between Shi’ites and Sunnis over the true line of succession. Today this rivalry is still alive and well in the Middle East, in particular, between the Sunni/Wahabi Muslim Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Shi’ite Islamic republic of Iran.
To add to the bad blood running between the two countries, Saudi Arabia is a kingdom of ethnic Arabs and Iran is populated by ethnic Persians. The new Middle East Cold War comes complete with its own spy-versus-spy intrigues, disinformation campaign, shadowy Proxy war and supercharged state rhetoric and very high stakes.
Tensions between the two countries were exacerbated by the 1979 Iranian revolution. Saudi Arabia, largely pro-west in its political orientation, has had to live in fear that Iran’s expressed aim of seeing its revolution internationalized would indeed succeed.
There is a relatively large population of Shi’ites in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province (10-15 percent of the overall population of Saudi Arabia), and allegedly they have been demonstrating against the Saudi government’s neglect of their interests. By and large their complaints revolve around religious discrimination, marginalization and economic misery.
Their agitation is a serious worry for the Saudi government because the Eastern province contains the bulk of the Kingdom’s oil reserves, which of course …continue reading at worldtribune.com