On June 28, 1914, a Serbian nationalist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia. Archduke Ferdinand was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife is generally believed to be the spark that ignited World War 1
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia executed 47 people accused of terrorist crimes. One of those executed was a Shiite cleric by the name of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. While you may not understand the importance of his execution, it may possibly lead to war between Iran and Saudi Arabia and if that happens, it may well be the final spark that launches World War 3.
Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader claims that Sheikh Nimr was not a terrorist but a peaceful man. He accuses Saudi Arabia of executing him because he was a Shiite Muslim who disagreed with Saudi Arabia’s Sunni leaders. As reported by BBC News:
But Ayatollah Khamenei said the cleric had been executed for his opposition to Saudi Arabia’s Sunni rulers.
“‘This oppressed scholar had neither invited people to armed movement, nor was involved in covert plots’ the ayatollah tweeted.”
“‘The only act of #SheikhNimr was outspoken criticism,’ he added, saying the ‘unfairly-spilled blood of oppressed martyr #SheikhNimr will affect rapidly & Divine revenge will seize Saudi politicians’.”
“Sheikh Nimr had been a figurehead in the anti-government protests that erupted in the wake of the Arab Spring up to his arrest in 2012.”
The animosity or hatred between Sunni and Shiite Muslims is stronger than the hatred held by the southern states about the northern states that led to the American civil. Allow me to explain:
“The conflict between the two Islamic sects goes back to the death of their prophet Muhammad in 632 AD when a successor was to be named to lead the Islamic people. The majority, the Sunni, wanted the community to select the new leader and a minority, the Shiites or Shia, insisted that Muhammad’s successor be a family member, namely Ali who was Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, married to his daughter Fatimah.”
“The Sunni majority won out and named the first caliph, but the Shiite minority was not happy and tensions soon flared into conflicts. Eventually Ali was named as the fourth caliph, but it was too late. Ali was murdered at Kufa in present day Iraq in 661 AD as were several of the early caliphs.”
“Ali’s son Hussein assumed the leadership of the Shiites and openly rejected the rule of the Sunni caliph. Hussein continued to defy the caliph and eventually faced the caliph’s very large army with only 72 followers, many of which were family members. The caliph’s army massacred Hussein and his small group. He was beheaded and his head was taken to the Sunni caliph in Damascus. His body was left on the battlefield until it was burned and buried.”
For the past 1300 years Sunni and Shiite Muslims have been at odds. Many of the civil wars and skirmishes that have taken place in the Middle East over the past 1300 years have been due to the bitter hatred between the two Muslim sects. That’s why I’ve long contended that it is extremely naïve of our government to believe that they can actually bring peace to the Middle East.
If Khamenei’s threat of divine revenge becomes a reality and Shiite Muslims retaliate against Saudi Arabia’s Sunni leadership, there is a good possibility of a full-fledged war breaking out between Iran and Saudi Arabia. If that happens, it could spark further conflicts between Shiite and Sunni Muslims throughout the Middle East. With so many nations dependent upon Middle East oil, a war in the entire region could very well spill out in much of the rest of world and yes, the US will most likely get involved as well but this time a world war will surely come to our shores and endanger us all.
World war happened once over the death of one man and may just happen again.