FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance

As the United States prepared to sign a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, royal forces laid siege to al-Awamiya, a restive town of approximately 30,000 in the Qatif district of the country’s Eastern Province. Bulldozers, backed by armored tanks and helicopter gunships, systemically leveled homes and put entire families on the street in the historic Mosawara neighborhood. This came under the guise of a development and “renovation” project for the long-neglected and impoverished city although the regime saw fit to post doctored images of allegedly captured weapons to imply was also a security operation.

Last month, anticipating such a move, United Nations experts on poverty, culture and housing rights, “ … called on the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to immediately halt the planned demolition of a 400-year-old walled neighborhood in the village of Awamia. The UN experts warned the development plan for the Al-Masora quarter threatens the historical and cultural heritage of the town with irreparable harm, and may result in the forced eviction of numerous people from their businesses and residences.

“The area is of importance not only to local people and the entire cultural landscape of Awamia, but also has national significance for the history and cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia,” said the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune. “The planned demolition would erase this unique regional heritage in an irreversible manner.” As the report makes clear, the project did not provide for the construction of residential buildings in place of those destroyed.

Awamiya was home to the late Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, the fiery cleric who nonetheless peacefully demanded equal rights for the marginalized, oppressed Saudi Shia community. He was ultimately executed by the government in January 2016 after his capture in July 2012. Awamiya is no stranger to aggression, but this past week’s attack and ongoing siege is a new escalation by those yet to be satiated by the killing of Sheikh al-Nimr.

The city’s planned “development” was marked by blocking ambulance access, cordoning off entrance to Mosawara with concrete barriers, cutting power and shooting at residents. As one said, “It is really painful to demolish a historic and archaeological city like Almosara whose lifespan extends for hundreds of years. Some people who want to close their eyes to the truth and are not affected by the demolition will believe in the lie of development.”

The action comes on the heels of an interview by deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s interview on state television in which he vowed to take the country’s standoff with Tehran inside of Iran’s borders. The offensive was still against Shia Muslims but instead within Saudi borders and the victims his fellow citizens.

It is erroneous and somewhat simplistic to frame the assault strictly in sectarian terms or as a move to appease the religious establishment’s anti-Shia proclivities.  Rather, it was meant to send a message to all in the Kingdom of the fate of those who would oppose the authority and the legitimacy of the monarchy. It was to widen the narrow streets of Mosawara to allow tanks easy passage for future operations. It was a reminder to those in the Qatif who might still be emboldened by Sheikh Nimr’s famous declaration, “A century of oppression … enough, we will not be silent and we will not fear. We will call for separation even from this country and let be what will be. Our dignity is dearer than the unity of this land.”

Most importantly, it was to demonstrate that even when the President of the United States visits Saudi Arabia to speak about combating extremism, the regime itself can be extremist without consequence or reproach.

Qana, Lebanon has been the subject of two vicious Israeli attacks and massacres. Gaza withstood untold suffering from a suffocating blockade followed by attack from land, sea and air. The poor villages outside of Manama, Bahrain, have withered under the pervasive repression of the al-Khalifa dynasty. Now another has joined their ranks.

Al-Awamiya: city under siege, city of resistance.

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

More articles by:

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail