Al-Sabah Al-Yemeni | news agencies |
Saudi Arabia’s razing of the Shia city of Awamiyah has raised many questions marks, but one obvious answer should be sought in the kingdom’s failures in Yemen as well as in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.
The Wahhabi rulers in Riyadh have always looked at the oil-rich Eastern Province with suspicion because of its Shia-majority population, keeping a strict tab on any sign of dissent and the region’s access to the outside world.
The rise of Houthis, who follow a strain of Shia Islam, across the border in Yemen sent Riyadh into a panic mode, fearing that it could inspire and embolden the oppressed residents of Eastern Province. That is why Saudi Arabia launched the March 2015 invasion of Yemen but with the goals of the Yemen war elusive more than ever, Saudi leaders have now turned their attention to the potential flashpoint at home, where Awamiyah lies at its heart.
What further prompted them to take the grave decision was their disappointment with the results of wars in Iraq and Syria, through which Saudi Arabia had hoped to send a message to its own citizens with the ruthless Takfiri campaign of death and destruction.
According to many observers, the Awamiyah operation is purported to send that message directly, crush the spirit of dissent and push for civil rights and pave the way for the presence of puppet and concessionist elements in the region. Saudi rulers further are trying to portray the populist movement in the wider Qatif region as a terrorist and rebellious current.
Media reports have earlier confirmed that Saudi Arabia had completed the demolition of al-Musawara neighborhood in the Shia town of Awamiyah. Last week, foreign journalists witnessed the destruction wrought by Saudi forces on the town after they were permitted entry for the first time.
They said that Saudi authorities had prevented emergency services from reaching the wounded and failed to provide humanitarian assistance to trapped Awamiyah citizens. Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more injured in the course of the Saudi regime’s raids in Awamiyah since May 10.
In recent weeks, social media have been inundated with footages of bulldozers and armed vehicles on the streets full of debris from demolished buildings with gaping holes in the walls and dangling wires.
Some of the videos show cars being set alight with no fire engines containing the fire. Charred carcasses of vehicles could be seen in the aftermath. There have been reports that the regime forces are not allowing anybody to leave or enter the city while it is under siege. Subject to the restrictions have been reportedly have been ambulances and fire engines, and even garbage trucks, with people on some of the footage picking up litter scattered on the ground.
Riyadh claims al-Mosara has become a hideout for “militants,” who are behind attacks on security forces in Eastern Province, but locals and the United Nations say the regime is after erasing cultural heritage in the Shia town and redeveloping the area. Awamiyah is the native town of influential Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Nimr was controversially executed in January 2016 after Riyadh charged him with terrorism.
He is considered to be one of the leaders behind the 2011 protest movement and a vocal critic of the Saudi regime’s treatment of Shia Muslims minority. Nimr’s death sparked worldwide protests last year. Since 2011, Eastern Province has been the scene of anti-regime demonstrations, with the protesters calling for freedom of speech, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination exercise by authorities. Western-made weapons were used in the heavy crackdown.
In late July, Canada expressed “deep concerns” over the Saudi kingdom’s apparent use of Canadian military equipment in its growing crackdown against its minority Shia citizens in the restive Eastern Province. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland recently launched an investigation, saying she was “deeply concerned” by videos and photos showing Canadian-made Terradyne Gurkha armored vehicles taking part in a clash in al-Qatif, a predominately Shia region of Arabia.
Awamiyah crackdown shows Saudi failure in Yemen, Political experts maintain that the Saudi regime’s recent fury against Awamiyah has stemmed from Riyadh’s both military and political failures in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Qatar and elsewhere.
Saudi Arabia’s dream of becoming the dominant power in the region has shattered and gone down in flames. Since March 2015, a Saudi-led force has been fighting in Yemen, with Riyadh supplying the airstrikes and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) most of the ground troops.
Riyadh has spent billions on the aggression against Yemen, in which more than 12,000 people have been killed, thousands wounded and several millions displaced.
Saudi Arabia has been leading the brutal military campaign against Yemen for more than two years to eliminate the Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall Riyadh-backed former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and secure its borders
The Saudi aggression, however, has failed to achieve its goals despite the wealth of funds, weapons and mercenaries at its disposal. The Houthi movement has been running state affairs since 2014, when Hadi resigned and fled to Riyadh before returning to Aden later. The movement has also been defending the country against the Saudi-led offensive.
Experts say the failure would be very expensive, and proved that Saudi king’s son, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, the deputy crown prince and defense minister has zero military experience. The Saudi crown prince is being blamed inside and outside the kingdom for impulsive misjudgments that have brought failure or stalemate.
Purported emails recently leaked show that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking an exit from the war that Saudi Arabia has been waging against Yemen on his initiative, more than two years into a conflict the Riyadh regime has been unable to win.