These photos aren’t from Yemen, they’re from the Saudi Arabian eastern town of Awamiya. Where Saudi forces are waging war against an oppressed shia minority. Saudi Arabia adheres to the extreme fundamentalist and intolerant sect of Wahhabism. Making it the country’s religious majority. This ideology is also enforced through state tactics. Which make it illegal to publicly carry out any religious practice or teaching that conflicts with Wahhabism. Even other Muslims (especially Shiites) are considered infidels by the Saudi government. And thus, all religious minorities in Saudi Arabia remain an extremely oppressed group; often lacking the same health care, public services, and wages granted to their Wahhabi counterparts; if not facing death.
While the majority of Saudi citizens adhere to Wahhabi principles, many towns in the eastern province of Qatif– like Awamiya– hold a Shia majority. Where they’ve been essentially doomed to live in “ghettos” as second class citizens. But the Saudi oppression of Shiites and other religious minorities goes way beyond just economic devastation. In fact for the past two months Saudi forces have held Awamiya under siege, destroyed buildings with bombs and shelling, and set up barricades to control free movement. This is likely a response to Shia citizens calling for basic human rights.
In videos posted to social media, it looks like Saudi security forces are using white phosphorus to drive-out citizens from their homes. Residents also report that Saudi forces are shelling homes and buildings with .50 caliber weapons. In one instance, a building was set on fire and Saudi police refused to allow firetrucks to pass through the barricades.
It’s been confirmed that a number of people have died as a result of gunfire. But it’s unclear exactly what the death toll could be since Saudi Arabia severely restricts media access. When the Saudi-run state media are reporting the numbers, they surely can’t be trusted.
Of course, instead of reporting on the Saudis brutal repression, mainstream media has framed the story (in the few articles available) as though the Saudi security forces are simply clashing with an armed Shiite “militant” uprising. Which ultimately places the Saudi security forces in the “good guy” category just simply trying to keep order.
This however completely whitewashes the fact that the Shiite population in Saudi Arabia has been brutally repressed since the Kingdom’s formation. It also completely ignores the fact that the Saudis are using American-supplied weapons to kill their own people. Which if we look at Syria, this was supposedly the west’s entire reason for their intervention against Bashar al-Assad. “Assad is bombing his own people” the headlines still read to this day.
The happenings in Qatif only further demonstrate not only the Saudis’ intolerant disregard for human life, but also their genocidal tendencies as they move further towards an apartheid state within their own borders.