Neck of the woods
“A large number of protestors staged a demonstration in front of a Saudi prison in Qassim province to demand the release of their relatives who have been arrested and locked up by the al-Saud regime for political reasons. The Saudi security forces blockaded the roads around a desert prison in Central Saudi Arabia on Monday where relatives of inmates were staging a demonstration to demand their release. The protestors had gathered since Sunday afternoon in the desert around the prison in Qassim province but were told by police they would be arrested if they tried to leave, protesters said by telephone. They complained they had no food or water because of the blockade but said they would keep up the protest……………..”
This was eagerly reported by Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency. Here the Iranians are clearly enjoying this Saudi discomfort: people have been publicly protesting about their relatives being held for years in prison, often without charges. The Iranians of course have their own political prisoners, many of them. Some Saudi dissidents claim that the al-Haer prison, where many Saudi dissidents are held, is the largest in the Middle East. Most others outside claim that Iran’s Evin is bigger, it certainly is better known both inside and outside the country, more notorious. Iran’s population is more than three times that of Saudi Arabia, so it is more likely to have bigger prisons and more political prisoners by sheer numbers. On the other hand there are also many Saudi ways to get in ‘trouble’: there are thousands of corrupt princes (and princesses) that one can insult and get into trouble. Besides, the traditionally subservient Saudi citizens (not just in Qatif) are getting fed up and speaking out more often now.
Things can only get more exciting in the Arabian Peninsula, from the birthplace of Islam in Hijaz to the oilfields of the Eastern Province. Things can only get more exciting in Iran as well, perhaps after the 2013 elections.
I’d say, between the Iranians and the Saudis, it is a toss-up (as in flipping a fifty fils coin to see if it is “chap lo kittib”. You figure that last one out if you can, or call someone on the Gulf).