Tension between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran is still high after the execution of the Shiite leader al-Nimr and that of 46 other people suspected of being “terrorists”, as well as the night-time assault on the Arabian embassy in Teheran at the hand of a civil group, during which forty protesters were arrested. The fire at the consulate, the assault on the embassy. For the supreme guide of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, this is “divine revenge”. The highest authority of the Shiite Islam has defined the execution as “a political mistake” which “is going to persecute” the members of the Saudi government. The Arab Sheikh who has spent many years as a student in the Islamic Republic “has never encouraged people to take armed action, nor conspired in secret against the authorities. He has only raised criticism – Ayatollah recalled – on the basis of his religious zeal”. “The unfairly spilled blood of this martyr will soon have consequences: God will not forgive”, Khamenei said.
Yesterday night demonstrators attacked the headquarters of the Saudi Embassy in Teheran as a sign of protest, breaking into the building and lighting fires. The intervention of the police force put an end to the assault and about 40 people have been arrested. Photos posted on social networks show demonstrators as they damage items of furniture and set them on fire. The spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Hossein Jaber Ansari, has commented what happened, inviting everyone to keep calm and explaining that protest demonstrations will no longer be allowed next to the Saudi diplomatic seats.
Al Nimr had been arrested in 2012 by the Riad authorities as a result of the violent disorders which had broken out the year before in the eastern province in the wake of the Arab Spring. He was executed together with 46 more “terrorists”, among whom there were a Chad and an Egyptian. Observers fear that Al Nimr’s execution may rekindle tension between the Saudi authorities and the Shiite community which lives mostly in the north-eastern part of the country, rich in petroleum resources. The religious man has never denied the accusations made against him, but he has always stressed the fact that he has never used a weapon nor instigated to violence. Before his arrest, he had declared that “the people does not want to be ruled by those who kill demonstrators”. Saudi Arabia has carried out 157 death sentences in 2015, the highest level reached in the last two decades.