Reuters reports:

Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shi’ite Muslim cleric and dozens of al Qaeda members on Saturday, signaling it would not tolerate attacks, whether by Sunni jihadists or minority Shi’ites, and stirring sectarian anger across the region.

When in doubt, kill lots of people.

Most of the 47 killed in the kingdom’s biggest mass execution for decades were Sunnis convicted of al Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia a decade ago. Four, including Nimr, were Shi’ites accused of involvement in shooting policemen.

The executions took place in 12 cities in Saudi Arabia, four prisons using firing squads and the others beheading. In December, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula threatened to retaliate against Saudi Arabia for any execution of its members.

Iran responded with anger and threats.

n Iraq, prominent religious and political figures called for a severing of ties, calling into question fence-mending efforts by Riyadh that could help boost a regional alliance against Islamic State militants.

However, the executions seemed mostly aimed at discouraging Saudis from jihadism after bombings and shootings by Sunni militants in Saudi Arabia over the past year killed dozens and Islamic State called on followers there to stage attacks.

Islamic State called on Saturday on supporters to attack Saudi soldiers and police in revenge for the executions of militants, in a message on Telegram Channel, a prominent vehicle for the group’s backers, the SITE monitoring group reported.

Saudi Arabia’s ruling Al Saud family has grown increasingly nervous in recent years as Middle East turmoil, especially in Syria and Iraq, has empowered Sunni militants seeking to bring it down and given room to Shi’ite Iran to spread its influence.

God wars; just what the world needs more of.


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