THE Saudi autocrats, the major ally of the US and the UK in the Middle East, alongside Israel, have just thrown barrels of petrol onto the fires of sectarianism in the Middle East, quite deliberately, with the execution of the prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, along with 46 others.
One immediate result of the murders was the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and the condemnation of Saudi Arabia by the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. In fact this action would not have been carried out unless it had the support of the Saudi ruling class’ main armourers, the US and UK governments.
At the same time the Saudi regime is carrying out massive repressions in Yemen, killing hundreds in air-raids without any objections from the US-UK. Saudi Arabia along with Qatar, and Bahrain have the closest possible relations with the US and UK.
On behalf of the US and the UK they armed the militias that overthrew Colonel Gadaffi in Libya and put the Islamists into power. They have tried to play the same role in Syria where they finance the Islamist movements seeking to overthrow President Assad.
The end result of all these efforts has been the rise of IS and the flood of millions of refugees seeking a better life than the life that has been imposed on them by the Syrian and Libyan wars. Alongside this military policy in the service of imperialism they also have an economic policy to try to bring Iran and Russia to their knees by a colossal over production of oil, and the crashing of oil prices internationally.
This economic policy has however greatly harmed Saudi Arabia itself, which now has a huge deficit. This is at the same time as its allies on the ground in Syria are being driven back, to the point where Assad could emerge from the war victorious and stronger.
All this is too much for the Saudi ruling class to bear and its response is the murder of the 47 and its decision to carry on with crashing oil prices, and its race to the bottom. These actions are now raising tensions in the Middle East to explosion point by the second.
The executions are sending out a very blunt message. The Saudi autocrats think that if the Syrian ‘peace process’ means that the Assad regime wins in Syria then they are opposed to this peace process, and will rip it up, in favour of war with Iran!
With Obama on the way out, whole sections of the US Republican Party are egging the Saudis on and emphasising that when there is a Republican presidency their policy will become the official policy of the US.
It is no accident that the Israelis are negotiating with the US to receive a $50bn dollar gift to rebalance and re-equip the Israeli armed forces for war with Iran. Ayatollah Khamenei yesterday said al-Nimr Baqir neither invited people to take up arms, nor hatched covert plots: ‘The only thing that he did was to publicly criticise.’
Elsewhere in his remarks, he noted that torturing the Bahraini people and destroying their mosques and homes, in addition to the bombardment of the Yemeni people for over 10 months, were other instances of crimes committed by the Saudi regime.
Ayatollah Khamenei emphasised that: ‘Those who are honestly interested in the fate of humanity, and the fate of human rights and justice, must follow up on such issues and should not remain indifferent to this situation.’
The TUC and the British trade unions must support the revolutionary people in the Middle East and demand that the British government stop arming and providing security forces for the repressive autocrats of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar.
They must demand that all British forces quit Syria and Iraq, and that the Syrian people are allowed to elect a government of their choice and no attempt is made to impose a pro-western government. The UK government must be made to cancel its project to establish a naval base in Bahrain from which to threaten Iran and to stop arming Israel.
The best way to help the oppressed masses of the Middle East is to overthrow British imperialism! Only the WRP and the News Line have this policy. Join the WRP today!