On April 16, unidentified gunmen opened fire on the house of Nabih al-Barahim, a former member of the municipality in Qatif in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. On March 9, Barahim was the victim of an assassination attempt and he was hospitalized after he was shot in his back and thigh.
This incident in April is the fourth in the series of attacks that targeted Barahim, an engineer, and his business and family. Barahim’s father and mother were at home when the shooting happened. Luckily, they were not injured and the perpetrators were caught on tape. The footage was submitted to the relevant security authorities.
Barahim was targeted because of his opinions that reject armed violence and reject targeting security men and citizens. He and his family have paid a high price for these stances.
The absence of a political vision and the loss of values have led to the expansion of armed groups in Al-AwamiyahHassan Al Mustafa
During the past 30 years when the Gulf region went through several wars, Qatif, and particularly the town of Al-Awamiyah, never witnessed violence or chaos like the case is today.
The seriousness of what’s currently happening lies in the fact that those carrying out these violent operations are young men who lack political awareness and morals. They do not abide by any religious values that can deter them from committing crimes against civilians and security men.
Expansion of armed groups
The absence of a political vision and the loss of values have led to the expansion of armed groups in Al-Awamiyah. These groups now attract individuals from outside the town. Some of these individuals are wanted for criminal charges that have nothing to do with politics or demands for reform and they think that slogans which oppose the authority may restore some of their reputation that has been tarnished due to acts that made the society reject them, such as theft.
Responsibility calls on scholars and the notables in Qatif to intensify their efforts – which have been launched for years now – to combat the terrorism of criminal groups. These efforts help lift the religious and social cover which these armed groups enjoy.
The sovereignty of law and limiting “violence” to the state are the basic principles of the modern national state. Fundamentalist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda do not accept this logic. Criminal armed groups also reject this logic and they voice their rejection in the Eastern Province by working with terrorist groups to end the state’s “monopoly of arms.”
They seek to deprive this state of this privilege by taking up arms. They think that creating an atmosphere of intimidation and fear may increase their control over the people’s orientations in that area; however, the facts have proven that they’re wrong to think that.
This article was first published in Arabic.
Hassan AlMustafa is Saudi journalist with interest in middle east and Gulf politics. His writing focuses on social media, Arab youth affairs and Middle Eastern societal matters. His twitter handle is @halmustafa.