While Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia largely escaped the unrest that spread across the Arab world last year, minority Shiite demonstrators have clashed this year with security forces in Awwamiya, al-Qatif and other eastern towns.
Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on protesters in its oil-rich Eastern Province triggered protests after Saudi security forces arrested dissident Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in the al-Qatif area.
Security forces shot and injured al-Nimr during clashes with his supporters in the village of Awwamiya as he tried to escape, the Riyadh-based Saudi Press Agency said on July 8, citing Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al- Turki. Al-Nimr was taken to a hospital, it said.
Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two men have been killed after protests in a Shia Muslim area in the eastern part of the world’s top oil exporter, following the arrest of a prominent Shia cleric.
This demonstration in Awamiya followed earlier protests in Qatif, which began soon after the arrest and were the largest the city had seen since November and December – when at least six demonstrators were shot and killed.
Hundreds of protesters were reported to have taken to the in Qatif, on Sunday after Nimr was chased, shot and arrested while driving earlier in the day, Alk told Al Jazeera.
So what did they talk about?
There is a CIA section whose mission is to draw up security plots and report on the situation in Syria to Petraeus in addition to preparing reports on the US security strategy on the situation in Syria.
The main goals of that strategy include forcing Syria into submission to the US policies and preventing the Russians from securing a permanent foothold in Syria.
Other goals include breaking up Iran-Syria alliance by making the Syrian government take sides with the US instead of Iran or Russia, intensifying the psychological and propaganda war by the US as well as its regional and international allies, transferring democracy to Syria without confronting with the country or risking Israel’s natal security, and cutting Tehran’s connection with Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah.
In 2010, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the military commander overseeing America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The general said that the lack of progress in the Middle East created a hostile environment for the United States. He has denied reports that he was suggesting that soldiers were being put in harm’s way by American support for Israel.
But the impasse in negotiations “does create an environment,” he said. “It does contribute, if you will, to the overall environment within which we operate.”
He said priorities are:
– the security of U.S. citizens and the U.S. homeland;
– regional stability;
– international access to strategic resources, critical infrastructure, and markets; and
– the promotion of human rights, the rule of law, responsible and effective
governance, and broad-based economic growth and opportunity
General Petraeus has aggressively pushed the military deeper into the C.I.A.’s turf, using Special Operations troops and private security contractors to conduct secret intelligence missions. As commander of the United States Central Command in September 2009, he also signed a classified order authorizing American Special Operations troops to collect intelligence in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran and other places outside of traditional war zones.
He has been an advocate for women’s issue. “For women—especially in rural areas—there is often a lack of basic financial services. And it is to address this issue is boosting microfinance opportunities in the Middle East and serving as a critically important external jumpstart to serve as a force multiplier for recovery and growth. I’ve often seen, in fact, that economic progress and improving political stability are not just a function of improving security conditions at the local level—but also a function of ensuring that men and women have opportunities to then improve their economic lot, and that their children have improved access to education and healthcare”
Some speculate that Petraeus might be pushing the Saudi’s to stop the flow of any money to terrorist groups.
On December 12, 2011 Iran’s Intelligence Minister Haydar Moslehi met with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Nayef in Riyadh. Two days later, at the OPEC meeting in Vienna, the Iranians reveled that the Saudis agreed not “to replace Iranian crude if Iran faces any sanctions.”
Some believe that accommodating their supposedly biggest enemy – the radical Shiite regime in Iran – while betraying their self-proclaimed ally – the United States, is a long held Saudi strategy. Support of radical Islamic regimes and groups helped keep the House of Saud in command.
“Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) , and other terrorist groups, including Hamas,” read a cable dated December 30, 2009, from United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, This was one of the cables published by Wikileaks in late November 2010.
Another leaked cable, sent from the US Embassy in Riyadh in February 2010, stated that the Saudi interior ministry “remains almost completely dependent on the CIA to provide analytic support and direction for its counterterrorism operations.”
A Wikileak Mrs. Clinton’s memo did not directly accuse the Saudi government of supporting radical Muslim groups, it noted, “Riyadh has taken only limited action” to interrupt money transfers to Taliban- and LeT-affiliated groups that have been carrying out attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
Mrs. Clinton’s leaked cable noted that “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” Her cable also stated it an “ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.” Although the new cash courier regulation implementation continues to be inconsistent, the more Saudis, including terrorism financiers, seem to increase their use of hawala, a system of monetary transfers through anonymous intermediaries that leaves no paper trail.
A 2009 General Accounting Office (GAO) report on Saudi efforts to stop terror financing noted that Saudi donors are the major funders of radical Muslim organizations. The report further stated that Saudi financial institutions demonstrated a continued unwillingness to freely share information with Western authorities.
Secretary Levey stated before Congress in July 2006, “On terrorist financing …there has been a real lag between what [the Saudis] say they were going to do and what they do.”
As mentioned earlier, the Saudi royal family fears domestic terrorist groups, especially the Yemen-based branches of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) group. Most of AQAP members are Saudi whose aim is to topple the royal family.
The March 2011 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on Saudi Arabia details the Kingdom’s progress on its domestic al-Qaeda terrorists cells, confirming the 2009 GAO’s finding that “U.S. and Saudi officials report progress on countering terrorism and its financing within Saudi Arabia.” However, the GAO report noted that there was hardly any efforts to prevent “funding for terrorism and violent extremism outside of Saudi Arabia” (Emphasis added). Again, little has changed since Under Secretary Levey testimony before the Senate Finance Committee in 2008 that Saudi Arabia is “serious about fighting Al Qaeda in the kingdom…[but] the seriousness of purpose with respect to the money going out of the kingdom is not as high.”