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Current Affairs

Executions in Saudi Arabia

Date: 16 March 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Saudi Arabia recently executed 81 people in one of the largest mass executions in the middle-eastern kingdom.

 

Background

The executed people included those convicted of murders, members of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. They were Yemeni, Syrian and Saudi nationals.

 

Details

  • Following the execution, Iran has suspended all talks with Saudi Arabia. The reason for suspension is not known.

  • The talks were held between arch regional rivals in the capital of Iraq, Baghdad.

 

Executions in Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia is one of the countries with highest numbers of executions in the world, along with China, Iraq, Vietnam and Iran.

  • It has so far carried out more than 800 executions. Saudi Arabia has been criticized for its actions against dissent and poor human rights record.

 

Executed group

  • The executed people were convicted of capital crimes such as murdering innocent people, and pledging allegiance to terrorist organisations including ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Houthis.

  • Others were convicted of kidnapping, torture, rape, smuggling arms and bombs into Saudi Arabia. 

 

Iran-Saudi divide

  • Iran and Saudi relations have been sour since many years. The major reason is due to difference in religious ideology.

  • Iran has a majority of Shia Muslims whereas Saudi is home to Sunni Muslims. Middle-eastern nations look up to Saudi or Iran depending upon the allegiance of their Muslim population.

 

Degrading relations

  • The modern degradation started after the Iranian revolution. Saudi till then considered itself to be the de-facto leader of Muslim world, which changed after emergence of Islamic state in Iran.

  • The invasion of Iran by Iraq led to the Gulf war, where Saudi supported Iraq as it was led by Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim.

  • Following US invasion of Iraq and subsequent removal of Saddam Hussein, the Shia majority managed to capture power in Iraq.

 

The final nail

  • Saudi supported pro-democracy protests against Shia dictator Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, whereas Iran wanted him to continue.

  • In Bahrain, Iran supported pro-democracy protests by the Shia majority against the Sunni ruler. Saudi Arabia sent military to quell protests.

  • Saudi Arabia executed a Shiite cleric of the country, which led to attacks on its embassy in Iran forcing it to severe all diplomatic ties in 2016.