Saudi government propaganda calls it “development,” but the demolition going on in parts of Qatif province bespeaks a very different on-the-ground reality. It is part of a Saudi siege and bombardment, motivated by worship and oil, which has left death and displacement in its wake.
Situated in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, the small village of Awamiya has fallen prey to one of the most well-equipped military giants in the Gulf. This 400-year-old Muslim Shi’a district, with a population of only 30,000, has been under siege by Saudi forces since May and the government has turned the historic village into a war zone.
According to reports, Saudi forces began attempts to demolish an old quarter in the province of Qatif months ago, and government ministry representatives have claimed that this was an attempt by the government to “develop” several areas of Qatif. But the reality on the ground is completely different from what Saudi government propaganda maintains.
Thus far, more than 20 residents of Awamiya have been killed, the youngest only three years old. An estimated 20,000 residents of this bombarded Shi’a town have been forced to evacuate, but even fleeing may not help them. In early August, a man attempting to help residents escape Saudi attacks was killed, and updates from locals in the area testify to a scene of utter destruction, with even religious shrines being targeted. Residents told the publication Middle East Eye that Saudi forces were “shooting everything that moves”.
The targeting of Awamiya, and other nearby towns, by Saudi Special Forces, is a direct response to protests — and to the fact that the Qatif province is home to one of Saudi Arabia’s oil projects. While the Saudi government is disseminating propaganda about alleged urban development, the truth of the matter is that the country’s Shi’a residents pose a direct threat to its oil supplies, should they continue to reject Saudi Arabia’s plan to demolish their homes and religious sites to ensure the safety of its pipelines.
The wider rejection of the House of Saud by Shi’a residents and the existence of these pipelines means that Saudi Arabia will continue to purge Awamiya, and the greater Qatif district, of all those who stand in its way.
The harrowing photos coming out of Awamiya have done little to shake loose American, British, and Canadian support of Saudi Arabia — and until and unless that happens, residents will be the targets of heavy artillery thanks to these foreign governments. From a $15 billion armored-vehicle deal between Saudi Arabia and Canada to U.S. President Donald Trump’s $110 billion arms deal with the Kingdom, the outcome will only be further devastation for those innocent of geopolitics and fighting to survive.
Top photo: The town Awamiya, in the eastern Qatif province of Saudi Arabia resembles a war zone following destruction by Saudi government forces. (Photo: Twitter)