Saudi Royal Family Exploits Oil in Shia Minority Region

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Shia minority in Saudi Arabia, who live in the oil-rich region of eastern Saudi Arabia and along the southern Saudi-Yemeni border, are calling for an end to decades of discrimination. Saudi Arabia is one of the United States’ major sources of oil, and the unrest in the oil-rich regions could potentially affect oil production and exports to the U.S. The Shia minority represents about 15% of the population in Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia, and has always been treated as second-class citizens. Some Shia liken their situation to that of African-Americans in the United States before the civil rights movement. While the Shia have long resisted Sunni dominance and oppression, a younger generation of Shia, emboldened by rising Shia powers in the region, such as in Iran and Iraq, has shown an increased inclination for violence and militancy. Recently, in a controversial sermon, a Shia elder, Sheikh Nimer al-Nimeri, called for Shia secession from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi police are prosecuting him for his words, but more moderate Shia leaders reject the idea of secession and are worried that his words have hurt rather than helped their cause.

- Jamie Mei Cheng
Saudi Shiites Call for Sheikh Kalbani Dismissal (by Habib Trabelsi, Middle East Online)
With Shiites Rising Across the Region, Saudi Arabia's Grow Impatient (by Caryle Murphy, Christian Science Monitor)


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