When people think about Saudi-Iranian competition, Middle Eastern theaters like Yemen or Syria tend to come to mind. But the rivalry has spread beyond its home region. For Saudi Arabia and Iran, Nigeria is truly on the periphery of their respective spheres of interest – yet here, too, we see signs of interference from these two Middle Eastern states.
The latest manifestation came in late October, when the Nigerian army fired on members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, a Shiite group with ties to Iran, killing nearly 50 people during a protest in the capital, Abuja. The army, which has received military support from Saudi Arabia, says it was responding to the IMN’s attack on security forces with sticks and stones in an attempt to overrun a barricade. The IMN insists that the protest was peaceful. The incident was not the first time the Nigerian military has used force against the group. In December 2015, the army attacked the home of IMN founder Ibrahim Zakzaky in Zaria, arres