Saudi Arabia's razing of the Shia city of Awamiyah has raised many questions marks, but one obvious answer should be sought in the kingdom's failures in Yemen as well as in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.
The Wahhabi rulers in Riyadh have always looked at the oil-rich Eastern Province with suspicion because of its Shia-majority population, keeping a strict tab on any sign of dissent and the region's access to the outside world.
The rise of Houthis, who follow a strain of Shia Islam, across the border in Yemen sent Riyadh into a panic mode, fearing that it could inspire and embolden the oppressed residents of Eastern Province.
That is why Saudi Arabia launched the March 2015 invasion of Yemen but with the goals of the Yemen war elusive more than ever, Saudi leaders have now turned their attention to the potential flashpoint at home, where Awamiyah lies at its heart.
What further prompted them to take the grave decision was their disappointment with the results of wars in Iraq and Syria, through which Saudi Arabia had hoped to send a message to its own citizens with the ruthless Takfiri campaign of death and destruction.
According to many observers, the Awamiyah operation is purported to send that message directly, crush the spirit of dissent and push for civil rights and pave the way for the presence of puppet and concessionist elements in the region.
Saudi rulers further are trying to portray the populist movement in the wider Qatif region as a terrorist and rebellious current.
Media reports have earlier confirmed that Saudi Arabia had completed the demolition of al-Musawara neighborhood in the Shia town of Awamiyah.
Last week, foreign journalists witnessed the destruction wrought by Saudi forces on the town after they were permitted entry for the first time.
They said that Saudi authorities had prevented emergency services from reaching the wounded and failed to provide humanitarian assistance to trapped Awamiyah citizens.
Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more injured in the course of the Saudi regime’s raids in Awamiyah since May 10.
In recent weeks, social media have been inundated with footages of bulldozers and armed vehicles on the streets full of debris from demolished buildings with gaping holes in the walls and dangling wires.
Some of the videos show cars being set alight with no fire engines containing the fire. Charred carcasses of vehicles could be seen in the aftermath.
There have been reports that the regime forces are not allowing anybody to leave or enter the city while it is under siege.
Subject to the restrictions have been reportedly have been ambulances and fire engines, and even garbage trucks, with people on some of the footage picking up litter scattered on the ground.
Riyadh claims al-Mosara has become a hideout for “militants,” who are behind attacks on security forces in Eastern Province, but locals and the United Nations say the regime is after erasing cultural heritage in the Shia town and redeveloping the area.
Awamiyah is the native town of influential Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Nimr was controversially executed in January 2016 after Riyadh charged him with terrorism.
He is considered to be one of the leaders behind the 2011 protest movement and a vocal critic of the Saudi regime’s treatment of Shia Muslims minority. Nimr’s death sparked worldwide protests last year.
Since 2011, Eastern Province has been the scene of anti-regime demonstrations, with the protesters calling for freedom of speech, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination exercise by authorities.
Western-made weapons were used in the heavy crackdown.
In late July, Canada expressed “deep concerns” over the Saudi kingdom’s apparent use of Canadian military equipment in its growing crackdown against its minority Shia citizens in the restive Eastern Province.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland recently launched an investigation, saying she was "deeply concerned" by videos and photos showing Canadian-made Terradyne Gurkha armored vehicles taking part in a clash in al-Qatif, a predominately Shia region of Arabia.
Awamiyah crackdown shows Saudi failure in Yemen
Political experts maintain that the Saudi regime’s recent fury against Awamiyah has stemmed from Riyadh’s both military and political failures in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Qatar and elsewhere.
Saudi Arabia’s dream of becoming the dominant power in the region has shattered and gone down in flames.
Since March 2015, a Saudi-led force has been fighting in Yemen, with Riyadh supplying the airstrikes and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) most of the ground troops.
Riyadh has spent billions on the aggression against Yemen, in which more than 12,000 people have been killed, thousands wounded and several millions displaced.
Saudi Arabia has been leading the brutal military campaign against Yemen for more than two years to eliminate the Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall Riyadh-backed former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and secure its borders
The Saudi aggression, however, has failed to achieve its goals despite the wealth of funds, weapons and mercenaries at its disposal.
The Houthi movement has been running state affairs since 2014, when Hadi resigned and fled to Riyadh before returning to Aden later. The movement has also been defending the country against the Saudi-led offensive.
Experts say the failure would be very expensive, and proved that Saudi king’s son, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, the deputy crown prince and defense minister has zero military experience.
The Saudi crown prince is being blamed inside and outside the kingdom for impulsive misjudgments that have brought failure or stalemate.
Purported emails recently leaked show that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking an exit from the war that Saudi Arabia has been waging against Yemen on his initiative, more than two years into a conflict the Riyadh regime has been unable to win.
The prolonged bombardment of the Arab world’s poorest country by the richest has produced a humanitarian catastrophe in which at least 60 percent of the 25 million Yemeni population do not get enough to eat or drink.
The US, UK and some other Western countries have been providing the Riyadh regime with weapons and intelligence in the unprovoked war.
All these developments have undermined the kingdom’s previously omnipotent image among its Western allies.
The military failures in Yemen also raise doubts about Riyadh’s regime ability to stage military interventions elsewhere if needed.
Crimes against Yemeni children haunting Saudi regime
A new draft report by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that the Saudi-led coalition committed “grave violations” of human rights against Yemeni children in 2016, killing 502 and injuring 838 others during their brutal military campaign there.
The 41-page confidential draft report obtained by Foreign Policy said that the killing and maiming of children remained the most prevalent violation” of children’s rights in Yemen.
In 2016, Saudi Arabia was included on the list which said that the Riyadh-led coalition was responsible for over half of the 1,953 child casualties in the Yemen war.
In response, Saudi Arabia threatened to stage a walk-out by Arab countries from the UN and cut hundreds of millions in aid to the international organization if the coalition was not omitted from the rogues list.
The then UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, agreed to temporarily delist the coalition, citing concerns that the loss of donations by Persian Gulf kingdoms could harm the UN’s anti-poverty programs.
Failures in Syria, Iraq shattered Saudis dream of dominance
The enhanced Saudi involvement in Iraq and Syria on the side of the militants had similarly damaging and unexpected consequences.
The Saudis as the main Arab supporter of the Syrian unrest believed that their Syrian allies could defeat President Bashar al-Assad or lure the US into doing so for them.
In 2011, Saudi and its allies believed that Assad could be quickly driven from power just like Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. When this did not happen they pumped in money and weapons while hoping that the US could be persuaded to intervene militarily to overthrow Assad as NATO had done in Libya.
Experts say the Saudis knowingly funded Takfiri terrorist groups and various al-Qaeda clones in Syria and Iraq.
The capture of east Aleppo by the Syrian Army and the fall of Mosul to the Iraqi Army means defeat for pro-Saudi-groups across the region.
Saudis failing in rift with Qatar
Meanwhile, Doha has resisted pressure led by Saudi Arabia and it is now impossible for the regime in Riyadh to force the Qataris to accept a list of 13 demands. The Saudi authorities have failed drastically to bring Qatar to its knees.
Mutlaq Majed al-Qahtani, the Qatari foreign minister’s special envoy for counterterrorism and mediation, has recently said that the Saudi-led quartet of boycotters has failed to bring his country to its knees, adding that Riyadh’s anti-Doha “smear campaign’ is only reminiscent of the kingdom’s own ideological support for the Daesh Takfiri terror group.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and destabilizing the region. The Saudi-led bloc has also imposed sanctions against the country, including restrictions on Qatari aircraft using their airspace.
Doha rejects the claims, saying the boycotters are attacking its sovereignty.
Critics of Saudi and its allies policies often demonize them as cunning and effective, but their most striking characteristic is their extreme messiness and ignorance of real conditions on the ground.
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