Contrary to popular belief, Nimr al-Nimr is not an example of persecuted Shia

Op Ed Iran, Middle East/North Africa, Saudi Arabia

Was Nimr a peaceful man? Possibly. But for a man who was arrested with his crew that opened fire on police forces in a high speed chase, and who once defined himself in a leaked cable in 2008 as “first a Shia, then a Muslim, then a member of Ahl Al-Bayt, and finally a member of humanity”, his work and conduct were at the very least questionable and tainted with sectarianism. Equally was his readiness to defend the “right” for Shia Saudis to receive foreign assistance against the Saudi government in any ‘potential’ conflict. Given the man was also a strong advocate for dividing the country geographically and calling for a new state in the Eastern region and ‘Jihad’ against the Saudi government, it is difficult to place Nimr al-Nimr as the ideal example that peaceful Shia are being persecuted.

Iran Deal: What happens now in the region?

Sami Hamdi Iran, Middle East/North Africa, World Politics

After tense, lengthy negotiations, the P5+1 and Iran penned the long awaited nuclear deal that will see sanctions lifted and the Iranian nuclear programme reined in to lengthen the time Iran would need to build a nuclear weapon. However given the ongoing situation in the region; notably Iran’s support for rampant militias in Iraq; a brutal regime in Syria that has plunged the country into a bloody civil war; and Hezbollah in Lebanon which has effectively prevented the appointment of a President for over a year and half, the concessions granted to Iran are nothing short of incredible.

‘Iran is an empire and Baghdad is its Capital’ – a statement of truth

Sami Hamdi Iran, Iraq, Middle East/North Africa

Ali Younsi, advisor to President Hassan Rouhani on religious and minority affairs, stated that Iran is now an empire and Baghdad is its Capital. Such a brazen statement appears to have generally been ignored as fanciful and wishful thinking at best. However, in reality, Ali Younsi’s statement carries much truth as Iraqi forces, led by Hadi al Amiri publicly and …

Editor’s Piece: Obama’s Iraqi gamble

Sami Hamdi Iran, Iraq, Middle East/North Africa

On Monday 21st October, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi succeeded in forming a complete government after a delay of over one month as a result of disagreements over appointments to the Defence and Interior ministries. Mohammed Salem Ghabban was appointed as Interior minister whilst Khaled al-Obeidi was given the post of Defence Minister. These two ministries were previously the subject of …

Editor’s Piece: Iran at Saudi Arabia’s doors

Sami Hamdi Iran, Middle East/North Africa, Saudi Arabia

On Friday, Sadr al-Din al Qabanji in Najaf criticised the Saudi verdict to execute the Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, one of the most influential figures amongst the minority Shia population to the east of the Kingdom. Following the verdict, Iran and its proxies – Houthi in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon – issued a series of threats prompting concerns of …