Saudi Arabia Executes Top Shia Cleric Nimr Al Nimr Under “Terrorism” Charges

By Amira Al Hussaini | (

Saudi Arabia announced today it had executed 47 people under “terrorism” charges, including top shia cleric Nimr Al Nimr who was seen as a leader in anti-government protests that took place in the Eastern province of the absolute monarchy at the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring.

Saudi Arabia today announced it had executed top Shia cleric Shaikh Nemer Al Nemer under “terrorism” charges. Photo credit: (CC BY 4.0) via Wikipedia

In a series of tweets, Saudi journalist Ahmed Al Omran quotes the Saudi state news agency saying:

In addition to Nimr, who had called for peaceful protests against the Saudi regime, Saudi Arabia executed Al Qaeda members, who belong to an ultra-fanatic branch of Sunni Islam. Al Omran tweets:

This “lumping” of executions did not pass undetected on social media. David Kenner explains:

The mass executions were carried out in 12 different areas across Saudi Arabia:

And they are backed by the Saudi religious institutions:

Nimr, from the Awamiya area, in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia caught the Saudi regime's wrath after giving sermons calling for reforms in the conservative kingdom where women are not even allowed to drive cars and for “taking the lead” in anti-government protests in 2011-2012. In July 2012, he was arrested by police after being shot in the leg and in October 2014 sentenced to death for “disobeying the ruler” among other charges.

On Twitter, netizens expressed anger at Nimr's execution.

American-Mauritanian Nasser Weddady notes:

He adds to his 37K followers on Twitter saying:

Rawya Rageh tells her 83.3K followers Nimr's execution will further escalate tensions in the region:

Iran reacted to Nimr's execution by accusing Saudi Arabia of “support[ing] terrorists and takfiri (radical Sunni) extremists, while executing and suppressing critics inside the country.”

Nimr's execution is expected to further fuel dissidence in the region with calls for demonstrations going out. Photographs shared on Twitter show armoured vehicles moving into Shia areas in the Eastern province to quell any possible rallies:

And in nearby restive Bahrain, where anti-government protests have been continuing since February 14, 2011, protesters took the the streets of several villages after the news was announced.

Protests in several areas in Bahrain to condemn the execution of martyr Nimr Al Nimr.


Bahrain's villages rise in anger after the execution of Nimr Al Nimr

Last year (2015), Saudi Arabia executed a total of 158 people, or an average of one person every two days, the highest recorded number since 1995.


20 Responses

  1. Just to point out the obvious . .

    If Iran, North Korea, Syria, Burma, Afghanistan, France, the UK or just about any other nation on earth, except Saudi Arabia, brutally executed a political opponent, the USA congress critters would be screaming at the top of their lungs on every media outlet they could access.

    Notice that because the USA “hates” Shia, there is just mild rebuke from POTUS and virtually NONE from the congress critters.

    Considering that Al Quaida and ISIS are derived from the Wahhabi state religion of Saudi Arabia, in a reality based world, Iran would be a USA ally and Saudi Arabia would be shunned and punished by the world.

    Note also that Israel wants to be secret buddies with Saudi Arabia because . . . Iran.

    The USA has lots of sources of low cost oil, so the USA should cut ties with Saudi Arabia and throw them to the wolves. Saudi Arabia wants WW3 (at least some of the leadership does – maybe not the king directly).

    When will the USA leadership do what is best for the USA instead of following the old empire pathways that have been PROVEN to be terrible for the USA.

    Over the last 200+ years, the USA has screwed over each and every ally it has ever had, so there is no reason the USA can’t just walk away from Saudi Arabia (and Israel and Turkey and pretty much all of the Mid East).

    As I noted, it is OBVIOUS the USA is backing the WRONG monsters in the Mid East and many other places on earth.

    • US just signed a shiny new treaty with Iran, which had executed 700 people between 1 Jan and 15 July of 2015 per Amnesty.

    • “…..there is no reason the USA can’t just walk away from Saudi Arabia……..”

      Saudi Arabia has $10 trillion invested in American real estate, blue chip stocks, and other financial vehicles that are easily capable of quick liquidation and withdrawal from the U.S. if effectuated. These vast holdings represent the reinvestment from proceeds of crude oil sales from KSA. If KSA were to divest such holdings in the U.S. it would trigger severe repercussions on the U.S. economy.

      Even though the 9/11 hijackers were mostly Saudis, the Bush administration did not make much of a protest or issue public ultimatums to KSA due to these reasons.

      Likewise, the powerful Israel Lobby that has existed since the 1940s has had the perceived power to make or break the candidacies of U.S. presidents or challengers, so American politicians are unlikely to see it to their advantage to criticize Israel.

      Both Saudi Arabia and Israel get free passes for their misdeeds and odious policies from the U.S. government.

      • You’re one of the very few people anywhere I’ve seen on the Internet who understands the obvious debt that the Saudis hold over the US. I don’t know why this isn’t widely known. They also own a pile of Treasury debt. The fact that the proceeds of crude oil sales are dollar denominated has chained the USA and KSA together to preserve the $ as the world’s reserve currency for 44 years after that should have ended. Saudi votes in OPEC maintain that reality, so Saudi power to crash the $ is even greater than its own holdings.

        The only way out of this trap is to explain it to the citizenry and make it clear that our freedom will require the sacrifice of the $, and the construction of an export-driven, low-wage economy – low wages for EVERYBODY, not just the workers, like what happened when the US Occupation jump-started the Japanese economic miracle in 1948 by a brutal devaluation of the yen. No one has the guts to do this.

      • The reality of large investments is once they are made, there is no realistic way to get out of them.

        Sure the Saudis could try to liquidate their holding . . .

        BUT they would lose most of their wealth and would provide lots of people with opportunities to own high value stuff for pennies on the dollar.

        The Saudis can do nothing with piles of cash and there is nowhere else on earth for them to invest the cash.

        Realistically, Saudi divestment is a myth.

      • Saudi Arabia has $10 trillion invested in American real estate, blue chip stocks, and other financial vehicles that are easily capable of quick liquidation and withdrawal from the U.S. if effectuated.

        Ummm…. How exactly would that work? Ten trillion is a helluva lot to divest. That’s got to be a big, diverse portfolio — Riyadh can simply liquidate it at the press of a button?!?! And where do they put the proceeds of the big Saudi fire sale?

        This reminds me of the endless fear-mongering over U.S. debt in Chinese hands. Sure, in some sense Beijing could use it to harm American interests, but only by doing immense harm to **their own** wealth. In practical terms, it’s meaningless. If things ever came to such a pass that the Chinese were actually considering such actions, there would already be such wreckage going on in the world that financial maneuvering would be worthy of a footnote, nothing more.

        If you see Saudis trying wholesale liquidations of their American investments, it won’t be an act of economic warfare. It’ll be a desperation bid, done piecemeal by connected Saudis trying to finance their emergency exile.

  2. The Saudi’s reported that some of those executed were shot, others were beheaded. I thought the similarity with ISIL’s beheadings, which attracted so much attention, would elicit some note, but (at least as far as I’m aware) the U.S. media have mostly just used the word “executed.” In a few cases there were vague references to beheadings. I infer we don’t want to say things that might seem to reflect badly on our “friends.”

    • “………we don’t want to say things that might seem to reflect badly on our ‘friends’.”

      Back in 1980 the Public Broadcasting System aired “Death of a Princess”, the true story of a Saudi princess executed due to her failure to consummate an arranged marriage due to her relationship with another man. That docudrama created an international furor.

      Mobil Oil Corporation purchased newspaper ads denouncing the production as an inaccurate representation and other entities with Saudi ties likewise condemned the decision to air the critically-acclaimed drama.

      In 1983, a Harvard University study researched the film’s impact on the interdependence of various entities to the Saudi government:

      link to

      The same forces are at play here 35 years later – deserved public criticism takes a back seat to economic pressure.

    • If that is the Saudi’s plan, they are making a fool’s bet.

      Even though the Saudis have some of the best war toys junk the USA can build, Iran has actually invested far more wisely in war toys AND military leadership. So, Saudi Arabia is probably going to be on the losing side.

      As for the USA defending Saudi Arabia, that is questionable at best since a majority of people in the USA appear to believe in a “pox on both their houses.”

      Then there is the whole Russian/Iranian connection which could constrain the USA even more.

      I THINK China will just stay out of it and pick up the power after the Russians and Iranians defeat the USA and Saudis. BUT they just might tip the scale toward Russia/Iran because of USA interference in the South China Sea.

      If the USA is stupid enough to follow Saudi Arabia down the rat hole, the USA could really lose badly.

      The BEST thing the USA could do is pull all USA forces completely out of the Mid East and brew up lots of beer and cook kettles of popcorn and watch from a safe distance.

      Side note: Saudi Arabia has DF-21C MRBMs (do not know how many) and has supposedly acquired nukes from Pakistan which fit very nicely on the DF-21C, so things could get real messy, real fast.

      • As we saw in Iraq last year, to win you must have troops willing to sacrifice their lives for their regime. I’ve never heard a single GI who’s had any dealings with the the Saudi military express any respect for its men. They’re like ARVN with Rolex watches.

        The KSA and Iran can only fight each other in the countries in-between. If actual Saudi troops try to take the offensive in Lebanon, Hezbollah will annihilate them. The Saudis could try to wipe out the non-Sunnis in Syria with airstrikes and atrocities, but Russia probably could wipe out their supply lines – unless the US is willing to sign on to this crime. Iran, conversely, has no place to march its own army to inflict a decisive offensive blow. It can’t supply troops on the Arabian peninsula. So all I can see coming is a bigger version of the current Syrian stalemate, a sort of Islamic World War One on a trench line cutting across western Iraq.

        The Chinese can afford to play paymaster in such a regional conflagration as the Bank of England used to. Their agenda is always brutal stability. In the past that meant propping up dictators in place against their own people, but how does that work in a war where each faction has unconnected territories crossing official borders?

        • Saudi jets are worthless against Russian and Iranian S-400 systems.

          Russia has S-400 systems in Syria making it very dangerous to fly anywhere over Syria, Lebanon, Jordan or Israel.

          Iran not only has surplus Russian S-300 systems, BUT thanks to a partnership with China, Iran ALSO has their own clones of the S-400 system. Iran also has lots of BUK clones as a second layer, with a third layer of older anti-aircraft systems. In other words, it is very, very dangerous to fly near Iran (or Iraq) without Iranian permission.

          Saudi Arabia has less than 300 active attack aircraft, so they can not afford to lose very many. I suspect that after a few Saudi jets get blown from the sky, the “elite” Saudi Air Force will be very careful about where they try to fly.

      • I have a hard time imagining the phrases “esprit du corps” and “Saudi military” in the same sentence. But I don’t know. In a real war, is the Saudi military likely to hold together much beyond the first engagement?

    • As Dr. Cole notes, nuclear fusion is not viable at a commercial level and probably will not be for many decade, if ever.

      BUT . . .

      It is possible to build much, much safer nuclear fission power stations. The current “light water” design is extremely primitive and was designed for ships and subs that have the whole ocean to provide cooling. Experimental designs that can NOT fail dangerously like the “light water” design are currently in small scale operation in many countries. The much safer designs should be refined and put into commercial production.

  3. Iran reacted to Nimr’s execution by accusing Saudi Arabia of “support[ing] terrorists and takfiri (radical Sunni) extremists, while executing and suppressing critics inside the country.”

    Accusations from Iran would be comical (if not so tragic)…the Islamic “Republic” executes several people on a daily basis, and is #3 in the world (behind China and N. Korea).

    The USA ranks high as well, the last Western democracy to still execute prisoners.

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