05:09 GMT +3 hours27 June 2016
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Workers rest at Ras Tannura's oil production plant near Dammam in Saudi Arabia's eastern province

Riyadh's Nightmare: Saudi Shiites Could 'Secede' and Take All Oil to Iran

© AFP 2016/ BILAL QABALAN
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Mass Execution in Saudi Arabia Whips Up Tensions (108)
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In Saudi Arabia, ruled by a Sunni monarchy, oil is mostly located in regions populated by Shiites. This fuels Riyadh's "deepest fear" which involves Saudi Shiites seceding and allying their oil-rich regions with Iran, a Shiite theocracy, Jon Schwarz wrote for The Intercept.

Schwarz cited a map, created by Dr. M.R. Izady, Adjunct Master Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and History at the USAF Special Operations School/Joint Special Operations University (JSOU/USAFSOS).

The map shows that "due to a peculiar correlation of religious history and anaerobic decomposition of plankton, almost all the Persian Gulf's fossil fuels are located underneath Shiites," Schwarz noted.

Saudi Arabia is not an exception to this rule. Major Saudi oilfields are located in the largest province of the oil kingdom – the Eastern Province, which contains a majority Shiite population. Prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was recently executed by Riyadh sparking outrage among Shiites, lived in the village of al-Awamiyah, located in the Eastern province.

Iranian women gather during a demonstration against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr (portrait) by Saudi authorities, at Imam Hossein Square in the capital Tehran on January 4, 2016
© AFP 2016/ ATTA KENARE
Iranian women gather during a demonstration against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr (portrait) by Saudi authorities, at Imam Hossein Square in the capital Tehran on January 4, 2016

"If this section of eastern Saudi Arabia were to break away, the Saudi royals would just be some broke 80-year-olds with nothing left but a lot of beard dye and Viagra prescriptions," Schwarz observed. "As a result, one of the Saudi royal family's deepest fears is that one day Saudi Shiites will secede, with their oil, and ally with Shiite Iran."

In this regard, the House of Saud most certainly views any Shiite victory in the region as a direct threat to its wellbeing. For instance, the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 added fuel to the fire, since US forces overthrew Saddam Hussein's Sunni regime and replaced it with a Shiite one, backed by Iran.

A flame from a Saudi Aramco (the national oil company) oil installation known as Pump 3 burns brightly during sunset in the Saudi Arabian desert near the oil-rich area Al-Khurais, 160 kms east of the capital Riyadh
© AFP 2016/ MARWAN NAAMAN
A flame from a Saudi Aramco (the national oil company) oil installation known as "Pump 3" burns brightly during sunset in the Saudi Arabian desert near the oil-rich area Al-Khurais, 160 kms east of the capital Riyadh

"Of course, it's too simple to say that everything happening between Saudis and Iranians can be traced back to oil. Disdain and even hate for Shiites seem to be part of the DNA of Saudi Arabia's peculiarly sectarian and belligerent version of Islam," Schwarz added.

Nevertheless, oil is a major factor contributing to Sunni-Shiite tensions.

Topic:
Mass Execution in Saudi Arabia Whips Up Tensions (108)
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Sunnis, Shiites, oil, Iran, Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia
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  • Jg38691
    For this scenario Iran would have to invade and could only do so on the basis the KSA is threatening its own Shia people in the region. Unlikely.
  • If they do, then the democratic West needs to support/respect the free will of the Saudi people like they would respect free will of their own people in the West.
  • Ivan Zadorozhny
    They have a right to self-determination.
  • qvasko 15
    Come on lets destroy saudis
  • alisudarahmani
    The world need to support the SHIA!
  • Dave
    In my lifetime so far, I have not come across a more cruel regime. No match in violation of human rights, yet glowing in Human Right Council!
  • michaelin reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    vendor, you mean like Krym? :)
  • michael
    I must admit, I do appreciate the irony of the situation.
  • in reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
    michael, well, they have opened a Pandora's box at the end of the 80's. They supported wholeheartedly when the Baltic countries enjoyed their right to be independent. Then the Germans and the Americans supported Croats, Slovenians, Macedonians and Bosnians during the Balkan conflict which they created. And above all democracy is a bitch once fully implemented. And I fear a full implementation of democracy even in multicultural societies, including Australia. But, the world goes on and once the box was opened an independent Catalionia, Scotland or the Western Republic of Saudi Iran would be most welcome. :)
  • professor.hornblowin reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    vendor, Nations are only ever defined by lines in the sand. If nations were defined and respected as ethnic groups, the world would be a very different place.
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