News Release

Saudi Executions, Weapons and Influence


Reuters reports: “Saudi Arabia’s Sunni allies rallied behind the kingdom on Monday and several joined Riyadh in severing or downgrading diplomatic relations with Tehran, deepening a sectarian split across the Middle East. … Saudi Arabia executed [Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr] and three other Shias on terrorism charges on Saturday, alongside dozens of Sunni jihadists.”

ALI AL-AHMED, alialahmedx at, @AliAlAhmed_en
Ahmed is director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs. He was on “Democracy Now!” this morning and stated that he has known Nimr for decades. Ahmed stated that while other clerics had been sentenced to death, this was the first time a Shia religious leader has been executed. He said: “This will have repercussion for some time and it will not end well for the Saudi monarchy.”

He criticized U.S. political figures across the political spectrum for not meaningfully challenging Saudi Arabia and argued that money from Saudi Arabia and wealthy individuals from there had purchased influence in U.S. institutions including the Clinton Foundation. In contrast, the new leader of Labor in the UK has seriously challenged that country’s support for the Saudi regime, see: “Corbyn’s honourable record on Saudi Arabia puts Cameron to shame.” Also, see from the British IndependentExclusive: UK Government urged to reveal its role in getting Saudi Arabia onto UN Human Rights Council.”

WILLIAM HARTUNG, williamhartung55 at, @williamhartung
Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and a senior adviser to theSecurity Assistance Monitor.

He just wrote the piece, “U.S. Arms Sales Are Fueling Mideast Wars.” He said today that Saudi Arabia is perpetuating war crimes in its bombing of Yemen since March — and is being aided by the U.S. government with weapons in the effort.

OMER AZIZ, omer.aziz at, @omeraziz12
A fellow at the Yale Information Society Project and student at Yale Law School, Aziz recently wrote the piece, “Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia, and Their Gift to Yale.”

In an news release in October, he warned against the still-impending execution of Ali al-Nimr, the executed cleric nephew, calling it “classic Saudi sectarianism at work.”

The Guardian noted in a piece last year: “Nimr had long been regarded as the most vocal Shia leader in Qatif, willing to publicly criticize the ruling al-Saud family and calling for elections. He was, however, careful to avoid calling for violence, analysts say.”

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah in a speech on the execution of Nimr stated: “The execution sends a clear message that the Saudi regime does not care for Islamic and international public opinion and for hundreds of millions of Sheikh Nimr’s lovers who would be hurt by his execution. … Al Saud [the Saudi royal family] are also explicitly telling people that they can either live under the dictatorship of the royal family or suffer all sorts of misery, including death. … Shia Muslims must be aware so that they do not fall in the trap of sedition as only Al-Saud, not the Sunnis killed Sheikh Nimr.” See: “Nasrallah on Saudi” and “S. Nasrallah: Al Saud Dynasty Imposed Itself on Arabian Peninsula via Massacres.”