In executing Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, the outspoken Shi’ite cleric from the Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia has made a serious “strategic error.” Not only is this fuelling the Sunni-Shia split, it is having dramatic diplomatic repercussions.  Protesters have torched the Saudi embassy in Tehran, sectarian violence has flared in Iraq, Bahrain’s oppressed Shi’ite community has clashed with police and nervous of an upscale in fighting in Syria and in the broader Middle East, world financial markets have dropped sharply.

“If you are trying to repair the Sunni-Shia split in Iraq in order to have a united front against Daesh, this will make life a bit more difficult,” said William Patey, former British ambassador in Riyadh.

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