Friday, March 4, 2011

Robert Fisk: Saudis Mobilize Thousands of Troops to Quell Growing Revolt

In #Saudi Arabia, the end game may be happening right about now. Uprisings against regimes in northern Africa and Middle East seem to be finally catching the House of Saud.

Robert Fisk writes (3/5/2011):

Saudi Arabia was yesterday drafting up to 10,000 security personnel into its north-eastern Shia Muslim provinces, clogging the highways into Dammam and other cities with busloads of troops in fear of next week's "day of rage" by what is now called the "Hunayn Revolution".

Saudi Arabia's worst nightmare – the arrival of the new Arab awakening of rebellion and insurrection in the kingdom – is now casting its long shadow over the House of Saud. Provoked by the Shia majority uprising in the neighbouring Sunni-dominated island of Bahrain, where protesters are calling for the overthrow of the ruling al-Khalifa family,

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is widely reported to have told the Bahraini authorities that if they do not crush their Shia revolt, his own forces will.

Oh wait.. Then the eyewitness account of tanks crossing the bridge to Bahrain, which has been denied by the Saudi government, may have been accurate..

Fisk continues:

The opposition is expecting at least 20,000 Saudis to gather in Riyadh and in the Shia Muslim provinces of the north-east of the country in six days, to demand an end to corruption and, if necessary, the overthrow of the House of Saud. Saudi security forces have deployed troops and armed police across the Qatif area – where most of Saudi Arabia's Shia Muslims live – and yesterday would-be protesters circulated photographs of armoured vehicles and buses of the state-security police on a highway near the port city of Dammam.

Although desperate to avoid any outside news of the extent of the protests spreading, Saudi security officials have known for more than a month that the revolt of Shia Muslims in the tiny island of Bahrain was expected to spread to Saudi Arabia. Within the Saudi kingdom, thousands of emails and Facebook messages have encouraged Saudi Sunni Muslims to join the planned demonstrations across the "conservative" and highly corrupt kingdom. They suggest – and this idea is clearly co-ordinated – that during confrontations with armed police or the army next Friday, Saudi women should be placed among the front ranks of the protesters to dissuade the Saudi security forces from opening fire.

If the Saudi royal family decides to use maximum violence against demonstrators, US President Barack Obama will be confronted by one of the most sensitive Middle East decisions of his administration. In Egypt, he only supported the demonstrators after the police used unrestrained firepower against protesters. But in Saudi Arabia – supposedly a "key ally" of the US and one of the world's principal oil producers – he will be loath to protect the innocent.

It will simply be above Obama's pay grade, Mr. Fisk, and he couldn't care less or is too lazy. As you pointed out earlier, all he cares about is getting re-elected, and in the US it is not by popular vote.

Read the full article at the link.

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