Nation states act out of pure self-interest. That isn't an inherently negative trait, but when a country is led by a sadistic megalomaniac, 'self-interest' acquires an entirely new meaning. That is precisely what the world faces with Saudi Arabia. And while there is no shortage of authoritarian regimes, the 'Kingdom' is unique in many respects, not least is its spine-chilling human rights abuses such as the practice of crucifying political dissidents; public spectacles which have inspired ISIS "worthy of ISIS".
Yet the world continues to cringe and grovel to autocratic Saudi monarchs, with only rare and reluctant expressions of unease at the grotesque butchery which the Kingdom dishes out to its opponents. How can this farcical regime receive any sort of recognition or acknowledgement from the international community, is utterly astounding.
How can this be, when the only real difference between ISIS and the Saudi regime is that the latter has 'made it' , having secured a seat at the UN and employ an army of flamboyant diplomats and lobbyists roaming the corridors of Westminster Palace and Capitol Hill. Even ISIS's official school curriculum is copied verbatim from Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Religious Affairs text books , not only taught at its public schools.
So when this manically militaristic regime, run by venal philanderers , and aided by corrupt religious zealots , decides to play with fire, you'd better be sure they will incinerate the entire region. Case in point, is the crucifixion of the country's most senior Shia faith leader, Ayatollah Sheikh Nimr , on New Year's day this year. An act which was not only macabre in the worst way imaginable, but done with an utter miscarriage of justice . His beheading was the most poignant political message the de facto king 'Prince' Mohammad Bin Salman, could deliver to the world's 320 million Shia Muslims; a declaration of war and an all-out sectarian bloodbath.
Three months later, another high-ranking Shia cleric Sheikh Hussein Al-Radhi
was also arrested, but perhaps the biggest escalation came last week, when Ayatollah Nimr's colleague Sheikh Mohammad Al-Habib went missing on his way back from a religious pilgrimage. Three days later his family was contacted by officials, saying he was being held at the notorious Intelligence Directorate in the capital Riyadh.
In a diplomatic cable, published by WikiLeaks , the U.S. Consul General in the province described al-Habib as "having significantly more authority in the community than the more polemic al-Nimr." He enjoys wide respect, even among the more reserved, apolitical Shia population. So his arrest at this specific juncture -- the Shia minority are still in shock over the brutal murder of al-Nimr -- represents the most serious escalation in a country already in deep political and economic turmoil.
Give the world's biggest military budget in the hands of a 28 year old unelected egomaniacal juvenile and he will think of the entire region as a game of Doom, just as he has done in his murderous war in Yemen and Syria.
If Ayatollah Nimr's vicious beheading -- who was in no way linked to Iran -- brought Iran and Saudi to the brink of war , this escalation is simply baffling. For one, it makes other Shia leaders nervous, since unlike al-Nimr, al-Habib has eschewed revolutionary rhetoric and has merely called for universal basic rights.
No political commentator had expected Ayatollah Nimr to be executed. He represented no threat to the regime, especially while imprisoned. Yet he became the victim of a geopolitical power struggle. The same anxiety exists with al-Habib who could face Nimr's fate, given the unpredictable nature of the regime.
A Prophetic proverb states, 'Beware of the anger of the meek' and with the regime fanning sectarian flames, this fire won't stay buried under the ashes for too long. The fear is that if Sheikh al-Habib isn't released soon, or if he becomes another victim of the monarchy's recklessness, Shia wrath will finally erupt. Even conservative leaders will be unable to curb the fury, given the pent up anger toward a regime run by an octogenarian king with advanced Alzheimer's, and his reckless infantile son. It is, perhaps, one of the perils of putting the world's biggest military budgets in the hands of a gang of thugs, justifying their barbarity and showering them with love, including the French Légion d'Honneur.
With every arrow this genocidal regime fires, it is trying to light the flame of an all out sectarian bloodbath, and their pride renders them incapable of appreciating the dire consequences of their actions. Sobering them won't happen with meaningless verbiage we often hear from Western leaders when they witness Saudi stupidity. Language like, "internal matter", or simply "this is a cause for concern", cannot hinder North Korea's Kim Jong-un, and it would be foolish to think it would do so for his Saudi equivalents.