Saudi Arabia's favourite spectator sport (Image source)
Saudi Arabia's execution of Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent and Shiite cleric and opponent of the Sunni Islamic fundamentalist Royal House of Saud on trumped-up charges of "terrorism", and the decision to execute him in a public festival of recreational beheading (it's one of the top spectator sports in Saudi Arabia) alongside suspected Al Qaeda activists sugests a wider agenda is involved. The message Riyadh sent was simple enough — Shiite activists are equivalent to terrorists in the Kingdom's warped world view. This predictably caused outrage around the world, (especially in Iran and other contries with a Shia majority).
The real aim however was probably to further inflame the situation in Syria and Iraq, where forces of the Shiite led governments, supported by Russia, Iran and China are in conflict with the Sunni Muslim rebels of ISIS and Al Nusra. Turkey, another Sunni country is also involved in a confrontation with the forces of the autonomous Kurdish region.
Protests against the Saudi butchery, some of which targeted Saudi diplomatic facilities, were cited as 'proof' of Iran's 'aggression' against Saudi Arabia and became the official reason for Riyadh cutting off all diplomatic and economic ties with Tehran.
Things are seldom as straightforward as they appear however, and the real agenda behind the execution and everything that has happened subsequently probably has more to do with Saudi ambitions to bring down the Assad regime thus opening the way for a pipeline from the Gulf to Turkish oil ports on the Mediterranean, which ties in with Washington's plans to undermine Russia's oil and gas dependent economy and establish a global economic and political hegemony.
The timing of this latest provocation couldn't be more suspect, since it convincingly appears as though the Saudis staged as Iran was preparing to be reintegrated into the global economy, a move which would have exerted more downward pressure on oil and gas prices. Russia and Iran can take low oil prices, not indefinitely but for a lot longer than the USA, because neither of those countries are saddled with huge debts on which interest must be paid. For Washington however, Crazy Obama Administration Claims It Brought Peace And Security To Syria In 2015">armed conflict is just about the only way out of the corner it has painted itself into.
The UNSC sanctions should be lifted by the end of the month or early February, and it looks like Saudi Arabia wants to spoil the event by provoking an anti-Iranian maelstrom that puts pressure on the EU to reconsider its planned energy and infrastructure investments in the country.
Ultimately, France and Germany's economic engagement with Iran will come down to whether or not the US gives them the approval to go ahead. Washington was successful in forcing Brussels to cut its preexisting and very profitable ties with Moscow after the annexation of Crimea but as the US imposed sanctions have hardly been felt in America, and been shrugged off by Moscow but have hit European agricultural economies very hard, and since it has emerged that the USA has been collaborating with Turkey to supply and fund the ISIS rebels in Iraq and Syria, European nations have been less willing to comply with Washington's diktat.
It is also rumoured the USA is preparing a new round of unilateral sanctions against Iran due to the Tehran's missile tests in October, indicating a shift in strategic attitude towards the Ayatollah's regime.
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