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An Iranian woman holds up a poster of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr at a protest, Tehran, Iran, Jan. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

Nimr Execution Is Latest Unforced Error for Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016

The shocking news that Saudi Arabia executed 47 people over the weekend, including Shiite cleric and opposition figure Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, got the new year off to a tense start in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. The executions have already caused a worsening of Saudi-Iran relations and foreshadow heightened sectarian-driven tensions across the region. But there are other consequences as well.

Forty-seven convicted criminals, most of them charged with terrorism by a special court created in 2008, were executed by beheading and firing squad on Jan. 2 in multiple locations in the kingdom. Most were Sunni radicals, affiliated with al-Qaida and committed to overthrowing the Saudi regime and freeing the region of the Saudis’ Western security partners. They were convicted of crimes dating back a decade or more, including attacks on American and other Western facilities. ...

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