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An Eye on Eastern Province
Will Yemen Hostilities Spill into Saudi Arabia?

As the war in Yemen grinds through its second week, a water crisis is looming in Aden and calls for a humanitarian ceasefire are growing. But the next shoe to drop may be stability in Saudi Arabia itself, where a police officer was killed in the Shi’a-majority Eastern province during a raid on suspected terrorists. Reuters:

“An exchange of fire led to the injury of Corporal Majid bin Turki al-Qahtani, and his death after being taken to hospital – may God have mercy on him and accept him as a martyr – and wounded three security men, a citizen, and a (foreign) resident,” with moderate wounds, SPA said.

The agency said forces undertook the search against “terrorist elements” and retrieved automatic weapons, pistols and communication equipment. It added that four Saudis were arrested after the firefight for targeting the officers.

Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province has been unstable ever since protests erupted in 2011. More than 20 people have been killed since then, and Saudi forces killed four militants in a shootout as recently as last December.

A Shi’a revolt in Saudi Arabia could have major consequences. The Shi’a-majority Eastern province also happens to be where much of Saudi Arabia’s oil is found.

Beyond that fact, a fight in Saudi Arabia could pull more countries into the war in Yemen—most notably Pakistan. Pakistan’s Defense Minister admitted today that Saudi Arabia had asked for warships, planes, and troops to help in Yemen. Thus far, mindful of the sensitivities of its own Shi’a minority, and of its relationship with neighboring Iran, Pakistan has been unwilling to commit fully, saying it will only send troops to help defend Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity. If conflict spreads to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan will find it difficult to maintain its delicate balancing act.

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  • Herzog

    My gut says: Let them fight and slaughter each other in a general regional conflagration, and best before most of the decisive players have nukes. So now’s the time, team Shia and team Sunni! So many jugulars around there in your ME neighborhood to go for! Bloodsport time!

    Okay, maybe this is politically immature (truth be told, I’m beyond humanitarian concerns when that part of the world comes into play). Then again, what exactly, except higher oil prices — which I would be willing to sustain for the greater good — would be the serious strategic downsides, for the West, to such a scenario? And would they not be more than balanced by the upsides? Elucidate me, before my gut takes me over entirely.

    • Fred

      I don’t like those savages any better than you do, but that kind of disorder in the world is bad for everybody. Cutoff of Middle Eastern oil wouldn’t have the direct impact on us it would have even ten years ago thanks to fracking, but it would raise oil prices substantially, and it would severely affect the economies of our major trading partners. It might draw China in to protect its energy sources, and do we want China controlling the world’s oil supplies? The disorder would make it easier for terrorists to get their barbaric hands on chemical and biological weapons. There are a host of reasons other than compassion for people who don’t deserve it to attempt to maintain some semblance of order in the Middle East.

  • Constitution First

    Hire a Community Agitator, openly hiding nearly every facet of his past, then feign surprise when it all goes sideways?
    Never allow the Malfeasant Media to pick your candidates, or do your thinking, for you.
    They are about as responsible as Rolling Stoned is to their stoned audience.

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