By executing prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, Saudi authorities seek to illustrate their determination to take on Iran, an Iranian history researcher and political science professor has said.
The following is the translation of part of a wide-ranging interview Dr. Abdolamir Nabavi, a Karaj University professor, gave to Khabaronline.ir’s Saeed Jafari:
Q. In the wake of the execution by Saudi authorities of Sheikh Nimr, how do you see the future of equations in the Middle East and the prospects of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia?
A. It seems the Saudi measure is a continuation of the iron-fist policy launched toward the end of King Abdullah’s rule. Saudi authorities decided to introduce change to their foreign policy and walk down a more confrontational path with Iran.
The announcement of the execution which came on the same day the ceasefire with the Houthis in Yemen was declared over can signal different messages.
One should not forget the fact that ties between Turkey and Saudi Arabia are on the mend. And the Egyptian foreign minister paid a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia. Normalization of ties between Turkey and Egypt is said to have been on the agenda of the visit. That means Riyadh seeks to buttress the axis to confront Iran and bring Turkey and Egypt on board.
I believe the execution of Nimr was part of a ploy by hardliners both inside the kingdom and outside to muddy the waters and render relations with Iran tense. You should keep in mind that there are many who benefit from high levels of tensions between the two countries and seek to make relations tenser. This latest measure by the Saudi government should be analyzed through that lens.