Thursday, February 26, 2009

Unfortunate Timing?

Shias in Saudi Arabia are upset and showing it:

Shiite Muslims are shouting anti-government slogans and demanding more freedoms in rare protests amid the minority's worst confrontations in years with authorities in this overwhelmingly Sunni kingdom.

Prominent Shiite clerics and intellectuals called on the government Wednesday to launch a fair investigation into a dispute last week that triggered the unrest.

Hundreds of protesters in the poor Shiite town of Awwamiya carried banners saying "Down with the government" and spray-painted the slogan on billboards Tuesday, witnesses said. One said youths threw stones at a police post before officers fired in the air to disperse the crowd, which included women. No casualties were reported.

Shias are a minority in Saudi Arabia but concentrated in the eastern oil regions by the Gulf. I'll not pretend the Shia are anything but second-class citizens, but a rare protest now is a bit unsettling.

Recall that Iran seems to be eying Bahrain lately.

Could Iran be up to something? Was Hezbollah--Iran's proxy--quiet during the last Gaza fight because the Iranian mullahs aren't quite ready to attack?

If I was going to announce something from Tehran like a nuclear weapons-related piece of news, I might want some convenient chaos in the region to make dealing with Iran seem like a much lower priority item on our presidential to-do list.

But I have a suspicious mind, I admit.

UPDATE: Iran's economy could be facing a "meltdown." And with an election coming up, would Ahmadinejad find it convenient for his religious views and official future to start some foreign adventure to avoid the consequences of that meltdown?