On the 6th anniversary of the execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, Beirut-based Saudi opposition figures held a conference, in the southern suburb of Beirut, entitled “Meeting of the Arabian Peninsula’s Opposition”.
The conference was attended by Saudi opposition figures including Fouad Ibrahim, Abbas Sadeq, Hamza al-Hassan and Sheikh Jasem Mahmoud Ali, who blasted the Saudi royal family for Ayatollah al-Nimr’s extrajudicial killing.
Ayatollah al-Nimr was arbitrarily murdered in January 2016, during a mass execution of 47 people in the kingdom. He was an outspoken anti-government critic, and a key leader of Shiite protests, in eastern Saudi Arabia, demanding fundamental rights and fair treatment.
Abbas al-Sadiq pointed out that “what the country (Hejaz) is witnessing the level of political rights is unprecedented”. Al-Sadiq stressed that “keeping the situation as it is doubles the responsibility of every free and honorable person to raise the voice,” adding, “This meeting aims at confront the brutal policies of the Saudi regime,” noting that “this meeting has an Islamic political identity and seeks to achieve justice.” Al-Sadiq affirmed that “attention to the nation’s issues is our top priority, and at the forefront of that is the Palestinian cause, and we announce our rejection of normalization.”
Sheikh Jasem Mahmoud Ali also stressed that “what the Arabian Peninsula is going through are existential threats,” adding that ” the MBS era has distorted Islam through its intelligence, media and cultural apparatus,”. He added, “Inspired by the legacy of martyr Ayatollah Al-Nimr, we announce the launch of our coalition.
In turn, Dr Fouad Ibrahim stressed that “what is required is a comprehensive change,” explaining that “change is the task of a people, who only has the right to decide the form of the system”.
As for the head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, Sayyed Hashem Safieddine, slammed Saudi Arabia for interfering in the internal affairs of the Arab country, noting that “Riyadh blatantly interferes in our country and we ask it not to incite the Lebanese against each other”.
Minutes after Sayyed Safieddine finished his speech, Saudi ambassador to Lebanon Waleed Bukhari tweeted that “he painful truth is that the terrorist Hezbollah is acting above the state”.
Sayyed Safieddine’s remarks come amid tensions between Beirut and Riyadh. Last Oct, Saudi Arabia expelled Lebanon’s ambassador and banned its imports following old televised interview by a Lebanese Cabinet Information Minister George Kordahi, who commented that the war in Yemen was futile and called it an aggression by the Saudi-led coalition.
In early December, Kordahi, resigned from his post but the move did not ease the tense relations and the war of words between Hezbollah and Saudi officials, but the rift is still ongoing. And in late December, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman called on the Lebanese in a speech to end the terrorist Hezbollah’s control” of Lebanon.
Sayyed Safieddine also stressed that the Saudi attempts to subjugate Lebanon are to no avail, adding, “I tell America, the West and Saudi Arabia that you have not known the nature of this resistance, the strength of its people and faith so far”. “We want best relations with Saudi Arabia but Saudi Arabia should stop the policy of bullying” in the region, Sayyed Safieddine said, “Those who target us will get a response”.
For his part, head of the Arab Progressive Front, Najah Wakim, said that “the suffering of the people of the Arabian Peninsula is no less than the suffering of the Palestinian people,” adding, “To those who might accuse us of attacking Saudi Arabia, I say stop Saudi Arabia’s aggression against Lebanon,” noting that “Saudi Arabia took from Lebanon more than $45 billion in interest and gave us $1 billion only as a deposit”.
Besides, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees in the Assembly of Muslim Scholars, Sheikh Ghazi Hanina, said that “many clerics have been firm, have sacrificed, so they got immortalized in history,” noting that “the stance today is a stance with the Prophet’s approach, which the late Sheikh Al-Nimr embodied”.