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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Islam's Schism and the Middle East Mess

Interesting article at The National Interest by Geneive Abdo on "Why Iran's Shia Threat Is Very Real for Faraway Egyptians" Yes, it's the Shia vs. Sunni thing, but an interesting take and well worth your time. Excerpt:
As of 2013
The wars in Syria and Iraq—perceived to be driven by Shia Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in the Arab world—also frame the narrative the Sunnis throughout the region use to bolster their argument that if the Islamic Republic of Iran had its way, the government would rule every Sunni-dominated Arab country. This fear has reached new heights in recent years, after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards, the most militant part of the state’s security apparatus, became heavily involved in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

“The Dawa Salafiyya,” a particular trend in the movement that opposes violence, “has taken up the issue of the Shia to deal with religious minorities in Islam and outside Islam that have deviated from the tradition,” explained el-Shahat, who, at first glance appears a bit frightening with his long beard and stocky frame, but is actually an affable man. “For Iran, the religious and political perspectives are one in the same. They want to create their [Persian] empire again and that means spreading Shiism.”
Rather, the Sunnis see the Shia’s primary motivation as tied directly to their theology, and that any political gain in the process is an added bonus. This is the widespread belief among Sunnis across the Middle East, from Syria and Lebanon to Yemen.
Although the Shia-Sunni divide has persisted for centuries, the Arab uprisings dramatically escalated the conflict for several reasons.

First and foremost, religious identity has become more relevant to Arabs than in recent decades. The notion of citizenship—being an Iraqi or a Syrian—became less important, due in part to the virtual collapse of states and governments. Second, the political leadership of Shia Iran and its Sunni neighbors, chiefly Saudi Arabia, have openly fanned the flames of sectarian rivalry in their pursuit of power and territory.
As I say, well worth the read.


  1. Anonymous7:00 PM

    Strategy Page has an interesting, reinforcing take (although 100% unsubstantiated) I submit this for readers that are much smarter than me. (I was just an E5 squid!)

    1. E-5, backbone of the Fleet, you mean!