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2017–19 Qatif unrest
Part of the Qatif conflict
Date12 May 2017[1] – present
(3 years, 6 months, 1 week and 5 days)
LocationQatif and Awamiya, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia
Status Ongoing
 Saudi Arabia Shia minority
Casualties and losses
12 killed (Saudi claim) 5 killed (activists' claim)
12–25 civilians killed (activists' claim)[2]
Thousands of civilians displaced[3]

The Qatif unrest is an ongoing (as of 2019) conflict in the Qatif region of Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia, between the Saudi Government and Shia community.[4] It began after an incident on 12 May 2017, when a child and a Pakistani man were shot and killed.[5] The detention of Qatif human rights activist Israa al-Ghomgham and her husband and the possible beheading of al-Ghomgham as the first Saudi woman to be executed for her human rights activities gained international attention during 2018.[6][7][8]

Background[edit | edit source]

On 15 October 2014, Nimr al-Nimr was sentenced to death by the Specialised Criminal Court for "seeking 'foreign meddling' in Saudi Arabia, 'disobeying' its rulers and taking up arms against the security forces".[9] Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International stated that the death sentence was part of a campaign by the authorities in Saudi Arabia to crush all dissent, including those defending the rights of the Kingdom's Shi'a Muslim community.[10] Nimr al-Nimr's brother, Mohammad al-Nimr, tweeted information about the death sentence[9] and was arrested on the same day.[10] The head of Iran's armed forces warned Saudi Arabia that it would "pay dearly" if it carried out the execution.[11]

In March 2015 the Saudi Arabian appellate court upheld the death sentence against al-Nimr.[12] On 25 October 2015, the Supreme Religious Court of Saudi Arabia rejected al-Nimr's appeal against his death sentence. During an interview for Reuters, al-Nimr's brother claimed that the decision was a result of a hearing which occurred without the presence or notification of al-Nimr's lawyers and family. Al-Nimr's brother still remained hopeful that King Salman would grant a pardon.[13][14][15] Nimr al-Nimr was executed along with 46 others on 2 January 2016.[16]

Low-level conflict and legal cases[edit | edit source]

From May 2017[17][18] through to mid-2018,[19] several incidents occurred in which Qatif residents and/or Saudi policemen were killed.

In early December 2017, Israa al-Ghomgham and her husband Moussa al-Hashem were arrested in their home[6][20] and detained in the Dammam al-Mabahith prison.[21] They were charged for their activities in relation to participation and documentation of the Qatif political protests.[21] On 6 August 2018, the prosecutor in their case recommended that they be executed, making al-Ghomgham the first Saudi women to be sentenced to death for human rights campaigning, according to Saudi activists.[7][8] Al-Ghomgham and her husband's potential death sentence gained international attention, with support for their case from Shia Rights Watch,[20] the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights,[7] Amnesty International,[22] and Global Affairs Canada.[23] Al-Ghomgham's final sentencing for confirming of rejecting the proposed death penalty was planned for 28 October 2018.[6]

Timeline[edit | edit source]

2017[edit | edit source]

  • 12 May – Saudi soldiers shot and killed a two-and-a-half-year-old child and a young man in the town of Awamiyah.[17] Lebanon's al-Ahed news claimed that the mother of the child was critically injured. However, the Saudi Government claimed that terrorists were responsible for the incident.[18]
  • 16 May – A Saudi soldier was killed and five more were wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade in a district of al-Awamiya in operations to counter the militants.[24]
  • 1 June – Two people were killed in a car explosion in Al-Qatif just before Maghrib prayers. Three men involved in the attack managed to escape and are currently being hunted by security officers in the area.[25]
  • 11 June – One soldier was killed and two wounded after a bomb attack in the town of Al-Awamiyah.[26]
  • 4 July – A Saudi policeman was killed and three others injured by an explosive device in a flashpoint Shiite-dominated city.[27]
  • 6 July – A Saudi policeman was killed and six others injured by an explosive device next to a police patrol in the village of Al-Awamiyah near Al-Qatif.[28]
  • 14 July – A Saudi soldier was killed and another was wounded in a shooting attack on their patrol vehicle in Qatif province.[29]
  • 26–27 July – five people killed during Police raids in Awamiya, according to activists.[30]
  • 30 July – A Saudi police officer was killed and six others wounded when a patrol came under attack in the town of Awamiya.[31]
  • 3 August – A Saudi citizen was killed and another injured during an operation to secure families wishing to leave Awamiya, after an armed attack by terrorists on a bus.[32]
  • 7 November – Saudi security staff killed in Qatif.[33]
  • 6 or 8 December – human rights activists Israa al-Ghomgham and her husband arrested.[6][20]
  • 19 December – Al Arabiya sources confirmed that terrorist Salman Ali Salman al-Faraj was killed in Awamiya, eastern province of Saudi Arabia, after confrontations with the police forces.[34]
  • 19 December – The body of Shiite Sheikh Mohammed al-Jirani, who had been kidnapped a year earlier by Shiite militants in the Eastern Province, was found in Qatif during a security raid.[35]

2018[edit | edit source]

  • 16 January – The Saudi Presidency of State Security announced that wanted fugitive Abdullah Mirza al-Qallaf was killed in a security operation in al-Qatif.[36]
  • 5 April – A Saudi soldier was killed in a raid against militants in the city of Al-Awamiyah in the eastern province of Qatif in Saudi Arabia. Several weapons and explosives were found. The security forces foiled terrorist attacks after the operation.[19]
  • 6 August – prosecutor calls for death penalty for Israa al-Ghomgham and her husband.[7][8]
  • 28 Octoberscheduled date of final sentence for Israa al-Ghomgham and her husband.[7][8]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Saudi police officer killed in restive Eastern Province". 16 May 2017. http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/16/522126/Saudi-police-officer-killed-Awamiyah-Qatif. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  2. McKernan, Bethan (4 August 2017). "Inside the Saudi town that's been under siege for three months by its own government". The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-siege-town-own-citizens-government-kingdom-military-government-awamiyah-qatif-a7877676.html. Retrieved 5 July 2018. 
  3. "Unrest in Saudi Arabia town displaces thousands". 13 August 2017. http://www.aljazeera.com/video/news/2017/08/saudi-arabia-unrest-forces-thousands-homes-170813142459213.html. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  4. "Awamiya: Inside Saudi Shia town devastated by demolitions and fighting". 16 August 2017. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-40937581. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  5. "Two, including infant, killed after ‘terror shootout’ in Saudi Arabia’s Qatif". 12 May 2017. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/05/12/-Saudi-Two-killed-after-terror-shoot-out-in-Qutaif.html. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Saudi Prosecution Seeks Death Penalty for Female Activist". Human Rights Watch. 21 August 2018. Archived from the original on 22 August 2018. https://www.webcitation.org/71s8YK5Mf?url=https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/08/21/saudi-prosecution-seeks-death-penalty-female-activist. Retrieved 23 August 2018. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Brennan, David (21 August 2018). "Who Is Israa al-Ghomgham? Female Saudi Activist May Be Beheaded After Death Sentence". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018. https://www.webcitation.org/71v3csHGA?url=https://www.newsweek.com/who-israa-al-ghomgham-female-saudi-activist-may-be-beheaded-after-death-1083499. Retrieved 24 August 2018. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Graham-Harrison, Emma (22 August 2018). "Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty against female human rights activist" (in en). http://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/22/saudi-arabia-seeks-its-first-death-penalty-against-a-female-human-rights-activist. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Saudi Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr 'sentenced to death'". 15 October 2014. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29627766. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 ""Saudi Arabia: Appalling death sentence against Shi’a cleric must be quashed"". 15 October 2014. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2014/10/saudi-arabia-appalling-death-sentence-against-shi-cleric-must-be-quashed/. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  11. "The Shia in Saudi Arabia: The sword unsheathed". 18 October 2014. https://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21625868-protests-break-out-after-shia-cleric-sentenced-death-sword-unsheathed. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  12. "Saudi Appeal Court Upholds Sheikh Nimr’s Death Sentence". 4 March 2015. https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2015/03/04/675138/saudi-appeal-court-upholds-sheikh-nimr-s-death-sentence. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  13. "Saudi court upholds death sentence for Shi'ite cleric". 25 October 2015. https://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/25/us-saudi-execution-idUSKCN0SJ0LS20151025. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  14. "Saudi Arabia top court confirms death sentence of Shiite Muslim Cleric". 26 October 2015. http://jurist.org/paperchase/2015/10/saudi-arabia-top-court-confirms-death-sentence-of-shiite-muslim-cleric.php. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  15. "Saudi Arabia court confirms Shia cleric death sentence". 26 October 2015. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/10/saudi-arabia-court-confirms-shia-cleric-nimr-al-nimr-death-sentence-151026064004105.html. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  16. "Saudi Arabia executes 47 on terrorism charges". Al Jazeera English. 2016-01-03. Archived from the original on 2016-01-03. https://web.archive.org/web/20160103034937/https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/saudi-announces-execution-47-terrorists-160102072458873.html. Retrieved 2018-10-25. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Saudi soldier killed as eastern province unrest continues". 16 May 2017. https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/5/16/saudi-soldier-killed-as-eastern-province-unrest-continues. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Pakistani worker, Saudi minor killed in Qatif terror attack". 13 May 2017. http://dunyanews.tv/en/World/388163-Pakistani-worker-Saudi-minor-killed-in-Qatif-terr. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Saudi soldier killed in Qatif province, Al Arabiya reports". 8 April 2018. https://www.thenational.ae/world/gcc/saudi-soldier-killed-in-qatif-province-al-arabiya-reports-1.719673. Retrieved 22 April 2018. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 "First Woman to be sentenced to Death Penalty in S.A". Shia Rights Watch. August 2018. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018. https://www.webcitation.org/71v2zxnFz?url=http://shiarightswatch.org/first-woman-to-be-sentenced-to-death-penalty-in-s-a. Retrieved 24 August 2018. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Saudi Arabia 'seeks death penalty for woman activist'". BBC. 22 August 2018. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-45270224. Retrieved 24 August 2018. 
  22. "Saudi prosecutors call for beheading of female human rights activist". NewsComAu. https://www.news.com.au/world/middle-east/female-human-rights-activist-faces-beheading-for-taking-part-in-antigovernment-protests/news-story/178ba84d924769b9ba9b581a6a2a53b5. 
  23. Chase, Steven; Yousif, Nadine (21 August 2018). "Canada criticizes Saudi Arabia over another jailed female activist". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 25 August 2018. https://www.webcitation.org/71wURVAPk?url=https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-canada-criticizes-saudi-arabia-over-another-jailed-female-activist/. Retrieved 25 August 2018. 
  24. "Saudi soldier killed five wounded in restive Qatif province". 16 May 2017. https://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Saudi-soldier-killed-five-wounded-in-restive-Qatif-province-490907. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  25. "Car filled with explosives rocks Qatif in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province". 1 June 2017. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/06/01/Car-bombing-hits-Qatif-in-Saudi-Arabia-s-eastern-province.html. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  26. "Saudi Arabia soldier killed in Qatif bomb blast". 12 June 2017. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/saudi-arabia-soldier-killed-qatif-bomb-blast-170612051647299.html. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  27. "Saudi Policeman Killed by Explosive Device". 4 July 2017. http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/232392-saudi-policeman-killed-by-explosive-device. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  28. "Saudi policeman killed, 6 wounded in Qatif bomb attack". 6 July 2017. http://www.arabnews.com/node/1125486/saudi-arabia. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  29. "Saudi soldier killed, another wounded in restive Qatif province". 14 July 2017. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-security-idUSKBN19Z1GU. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  30. "At least five dead during Saudi security operation in Qatif: activists". Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-security-awamiya/at-least-five-dead-during-saudi-security-operation-in-qatif-activists-idUSKBN1AC2NK. Retrieved 5 July 2018. 
  31. "Policeman killed, six wounded in eastern Saudi Arabia attack | News , Middle East". 30 July 2017. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2017/Jul-30/414484-policeman-killed-six-wounded-in-eastern-saudi-arabia-attack.ashx. Retrieved 8 October 2017. 
  32. "Saudi man killed, another wounded in Awamiya terrorist attack". 3 August 2017. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/08/03/Saudi-man-killed-another-wounded-by-a-terrorist-attack-in-Awamiyah.html. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  33. "Saudi security man killed in Qatif". Saudi Gazette. 2017-11-06. http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/521226/SAUDI-ARABIA/Saudi-security-man-killed-in-Qatif. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  34. "Most wanted man in Qatif attack killed in Saudi Arabia". Al Arabiya English. https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/12/19/Most-wanted-man-in-Qatif-attack-killed-in-Saudi-Arabia.html. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  35. "Who is the Saudi Shiite judge found killed by his Shiite terrorist compatriots?". Al Arabiya English. https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/12/21/Body-of-Shiite-cleric-kidnapped-killed-by-Shiite-terrorists-recovered-in-Qatif.html. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  36. "Saudi State Security: Fugitive Killed in Security Operation in Qatif | Asharq AL-awsat". Aawsat.com. 2018-01-16. https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1145356/saudi-state-security-fugitive-killed-security-operation-qatif. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 

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