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Sectarian Politics in the GulfFrom the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings$
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Frederic Wehrey

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231165129

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231165129.001.0001

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Under Siege

Under Siege

The Salafi and Regime Countermobilization

(p.122) Seven Under Siege
Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

Frederic M. Wehrey

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines Saudi Arabia's strategy, in cooperation with the Salafi clerical establishment, toward domestic Shi'a activism. From 2003 onward, the Saudi regime's strategy toward Shi'a activism was influenced by a convergence of domestic vulnerabilities and regional threats: the ruling family's symbiotic relationship with the Salafi establishment, which was doctrinally opposed to Shi'ism, and the kingdom's geostrategy rivalry with Iran. Popular Salafi clerics and nongovernmental religious organizations agitated for a greater Saudi role in defending Iraq's Sunnis from Iranian-backed Shi'a militias. The Salafi establishment also accused the Saudi Shi'a of being proxies for Hizballah. To close ranks with these figures, the Saudi monarchy tacitly permitted the proliferation of anti-Shi'a tracts, sermons, and web statements, many of them recycled from the kingdom's ideological counteroffensive against the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Keywords:   activism, Saudi Arabia, Salafi clerics, Shi'a, Shi'ism, Iran, Iraq, Sunni, militias, Hizballah

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