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Posted on on March 23rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Qatif region of Eastern Saudi Arabia is only half an hour from the Bahrain small island State. Bahrain has a Shiia majority under a Sunni monarch. Qatif has a Shiia regional majority within the larger Sunni Wahabi Monarchy.

In Bahrain there is clear rebelion and the Saudi regime sent its military to help the Bahraini rulers. In Katif, young Shiia organize in nightly protests and we know of the first two casualties from their side.

Saudi official school books treat Shiia as deviants and as not true to Islam. Children are warned not to eat food from Shiia because they spit in the food or even poison it.

The Shiia get their news from Arab speakers on the Iranian radio. Being born in Qatif is a give-away for young Saudis who are Shiia, and thus targets for descrimination. They will never be accepted into the police or the military and can only dream of government positions.

Reports from the  week-end nights of  protests by young Qatif Shiia, dressed in black and hidden behind black face masks, show the rebelion of underdogs in a system that has not heard of democracy as a whole. Qatif is the main oil-region of the Saudis and what happens in Qatif will have global ramifications as the price of oil has global implications. king Abdullah of Saudi arabia wants to answer the rebeling youth by establishing a comittee to deal with their complaints – but today, with the Arab world in turmoil this will not do. The Shiia youth will not retreat by commission but want to see direct action which they understand as democratization.

Will the US and the UK allow any acts against the safety of those Bahrain and Sadi Arabia – which they equate to the safety of regimes that deliver the oil and help create a regional security base? Is this corner of the Gulf to be kept out of the string of turmoil?

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