Saudi Arabia has entered tumultuous times. The price of oil is at an all-time low, which is problematic for a nation that depends on oil revenues for seventy three percent of its budget. Despite economic instability in the country, the new King of the House of Saud King Salman has attempted to maintain face. He may even engage in a proxy war with Syria to assert his power. Said scholar Farea al-Muslimi, “the Saudis feel like they must do something, even if it is the wrong thing.”
The Saudi government recently executed forty seven men, including Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia leader of an anti-government protest in the country. The men were all found guilty of alleged terrorism charges, charges of which Nimr al-Nimr was almost undoubtedly innocent. The execution of a Shia by a majority Sunni Saudi Arabia evidently angered Shia Iran; many argue that the execution was a power-move by which Saudi Arabia attempted to send a clear message of dominance to Iran.
After Nimr was executed, a Saudi diplomat was attacked by a mob in Tehran (Iran). By the butterfly effect, a sectarian war could spread if the Saudis or Iranians back rebel groups of their sect rather than spilling blood on their own soil.
The natural enmity is understandable. After economic sanctions were lifted, Iran’s entrance into the oil market has challenged Saudi’s oil industry. A combination of sectarian forces and economic interest play into the recent events.