By deliberately provoking Iran Saudi Arabia is reasserting itself as the guardian of Sunni orthodoxy. There is little or no respect for the government of Saudi Arabia and its royal family in the Muslim world but sectarianism has muddled many minds and pushed to make a choice between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the great majority of Sunnis will come in behind the Saudis. So will the US. Having persuaded Iran to sign a nuclear agreement which very much damages Iranian national sovereignty, the Americans have already begun welching on the deal by raising the possibility of new sanctions. It has criticized the execution of Sheikh Nimr but in any new standoff between the Saudis and Iran it also will throw its support behind the Saudi government. Israel – Saudi Arabia’s half covert ally – will naturally welcome the re-ignition of confrontation with the government of the Islamic republic.Saudi Arabia is in the throes of an acute multifaceted existential crisis.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up