Shia Insurrection in Saudi Arabia; The Battle for Awamiya
Since May, 2017 an ongoing insurgency has been raging in the Shia
heartland town of Awamiya in eastern Saudi Arabia and its only thanks
to the BBC being allowed to enter the area and film the destruction
that the world can see how the House of Saud’s war against the Shia
population of Yemeni has now expanded to include the Shia population
of eastern Saudi Arabia.
The BBC World report shown on Wednesday, August 16, seemed to have
come from Syria, with al-Zara, the ancient Shia capital of the Persian
province of Bahrain and the rest the town of Awamiya showing a level
of devastation resembling that in Syria or to the Kurdish cities
destroyed recently by Erdogan Ottoman’s Janissarris.
Block by block destruction of the Old City with no visible signs of
the Shia people who once lived here for millenia with almost 500
buildings destroyed and over 20,000 driven from their homes by Saudi
airstrikes, artillery and mortar fire.
The BBC crew was only allowed there in armored vehicles, filming
through bullet proof windows while traveling as a part of an armored
convoy. The one time they were allowed to stop and step outside the
battlewagons they were riding, firing could by heard and they were
quickly ordered to return to their vehicles so they could escape.
This short view of an almost unknown urban war in the midst of the
Saudi oilfields, with 2 million barrels a day being pumped via Awamiya
alone (20% of total Saudi exports) with the House of Saud, after
Russia, being the 2nd largest oil producer worldwide, should be
sending shivers down the spines of those occupying the seats of power
both east and west.
How long the Shia rebellion in eastern Saudi Arabia, home to almost
all Saudi oil reserves, will be able to maintain an armed resistance
to the Saudi military assault is the 10 million barrel a day question.
The excuse given by the House of Saud royal family mouthpieces is they
were driving the Shia from their ancient homeland for “urban renewal”
purposes. Never mind the “renewing” would destroy world heritage sites
such as the ancient town of al-Zara, capital of the Shia, Persian
province of Bahrain for millenia past and sacred to the Shia
population and in the process “relocate” the Shia population as far a
possible from the Saudi oil fields.
Wahabi is as Wahabi does with the crimes committed in the name of
Sunni Islam in Yemen now being carried out next door to their cousins,
the Saudi Shia. Only the silence of the media lambs internationally
alongside the UN, allows this to go unnoticed, for a double standard
has long existed when it comes to condemning the crimes of the House
of Saud. After the latest round of beheadings of Shia leaders protests
turned to gunfire in Awamiya and the fires of armed revolution have
been lit for the first time in Saudi Arabia.
The Shia of eastern Saudi Arabia are cousins to their rather
unorthodox Houthi neighbors in Yemen with a long history of
intermarriage and commerce. The flood of small arms that has plagued
Yemen for decades past have over the years made its way into the hands
of the Shia population in the midst of the House of Saud’s oil fields.
While many waited in vain for the armed struggle to break out in
Bahrain instead it exploded in the cultural heartland of this once
Persian province and in a much more strategically critical location,
in Awamiya and ancient al-Zara.
While still early, for almost 4 months now the armed resistance in
Awamiya appears to have fought the Saudi army into a stalemate,
surviving heavy air and artillery bombardment, with shots still
ringing whenever the armed might of the House of Saud ventures within
range of their small arms. If this very first armed uprising is able
to maintain their determination to see an end to their oppression by
their Wahabi occupiers similar to the relentless fight being waged by
the mainly Houthi based resistance in Yemen then all hell could break
Losing control of their oil fields would inevitably bring down the
Royal House of Saud, in power since their installation by the British
If this armed uprising survives the Saudi Army onslaught and can
spread to villages and towns throughout Shia eastern Saudi Arabia and
the over 3 million strong Shia people take up arms against the regime
similar to their cousins in Yemen those shivers running down the
spines of the lords of power east and west could quickly grow to be
migraine headaches as a major portion of the worlds oil supplies could
be threatened if not cut off.
Thomas C. Mountain is an independent journalist in Eritrea, living and
reporting from here since 2006. See thomascmountain on Facebook or
best contact him at thomascmountain at g mail dot com