Why Saudi Arabia escalated the Middle East’s sectarian conflict -Washington Post

Although Iran is not without fault, the sudden crisis in Iranian Saudi relations is due to the Saudis escalating the rivalry by executing Shi’a cleric Nimir al-Nimir. But why? According to Marc Lynch’s post at the Monkey Cage, a blog maintained by the Washington Post, the reasons are complex. The Saudis are feeling increasing vulnerable, the conflict in Yemen is dragging on, Tehran’s nuclear deal with the US is allowing Iran to escape its regional isolation, and the Saudis see a leadership void in the Sunni Arab world which they wish to fill. Will this lead to an Iranian-Saudi war? Probably not. But as Lynch argues: the mobilization of sectarian passions are part of the standard playbook for Riyadh when faced with regional and domestic challenges. But the new forces unleashed by the Arab uprising, from state weakness and civil wars to potent new media platforms, make this sectarian game much more dangerous than in the past. It will be far more difficult to deescalate these sectarian passions than it has been to inflame them.”