An interesting perspective – and I was looking at the wrong war


Powerline has an interesting post about the current crisis in the Middle East. It is interesting because it highlights some of the things that I have previously mentioned (and keep in mind that I have no training as an analyst). I think that the article is well worth reading because it provides some insight regarding the Egyptian involvement in Syria.
A few things should be mentioned:

1. Morsi is a Shiite, just as Muslim Brotherhood is Shiite, and this explains why Morsi has a preference for Iran. However, in this article it mentions that Morsi has turned from Iran and Syria and has been critical. Perhaps this is the Alawite factor coming into play (Alawites are not pure Shia).

2. The author of the article acknowledges what I have been emphasizing for ages – this is a Sunni vs Shia conflict.

3. There are some perspectives that I had not considered when talking about Sunni vs. Shia, especially how such a conflict impacts the West.

4. Oddly enough prior to reading the very last part of the article I was reminded not of the US interference in Afghanistan after the Russian invasion (which is something I had considered) but of another war that was very bloody and where there was no result. That was was the Iran-Iraq war. In that war the USA gave some help to Saddam Hussein and Iraq. It seemed to be a choice between the Devil and his assistant.

It is this 4th point that piqued my interest for the very reason that I had forgotten about that particular war even though it played out when I was a young adult. This is the war where the Iranians, and I think the Iraqis did it as well, sent children to the front, and it was the children who were blown to pieces by the landmines. In fact, it was with this war that we had thousands of landmines being used in what is an atrocious way.

So, this raises a few questions about whether or not the West, including USA, France and UK should be giving any aid in the form of military equipment to the those who oppose Assad. I continue to have the view that the West should simply remain on the sidelines, and let the Sunni vs. Shia conflict continue. However, I recognize that there are higher stakes to consider. This is because the conflict has the potential to spark another cold war. Russia constantly remains in the background of these Middle Eastern countries. Russia is supporting Assad in this conflict. This means Russia is opposing Saudi Arabia.

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5 responses to “An interesting perspective – and I was looking at the wrong war

  1. Though sectarian tensions in Lebanon were at their height during the Lebanese Civil War , the Shia–Sunni relations were not the main conflict of the war. The Shia parties of Hizbullah emerged in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War, and emerged as one of the strongest forces following the Israeli withdrawal in the year 2000, and the collapse of the SLA in the South. The situation in Lebanon flared into anti-Shia moods with the assassination of Sunni Rafiq al-Hariri, with Hizbullah and Syria being the main suspects. The tensions blew into a limited warfare between Shia dominated vs Sunni dominated political alliances in 2008. The Shia organization has since attempted to lower the profile. With the eruption of the 2011-2012 Syrian uprising , tensions increased between the Shia affiliated Alawis and Sunnis of Tripoli, erupting twice into deadly violence – on June 2011, and the second time on February 2012 .

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  2. The sectarian narrative radically exaggerates both the coherence of the “Sunni” side of the conflict and the novelty of a long-standing power struggle with Iran. It is better understood as a justification for domestic repression and regional power plays than as an explanation for Middle Eastern regimes’ behavior. Arab autocrats, particularly those in the Gulf with significant Shia populations, find Sunni-Shiite tensions a useful way to delegitimize the political demands of their Shiite citizens. Shiite citizens of Saudi Arabia in the kingdom’s Eastern Province and the Shiite majority of Bahrain who attempt to protest their systematic dispossession are demonized as an Iranian fifth column because this is useful to the ruling regimes.

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    • There are many perspectives to consider because there is no one easy explanation.

      For example, an Australian history professor claims that it goes back to post world war 2 when the Middle East was split up by the British Empire. I happened to disagree with a good portion of what that professor said because he was out in his dates concerning the secular governments in the area. What he left out was the rise of Marxism during the 1950s as well as the rise of the Ba’ath Party – these two are inter-related. It is this rise of the Ba’ath Party that more or less involves the influence of Russia in the region.

      The Middle East itself is made up of 100s of tribes and they have their differences. There is very little cohesiveness with these tribes. The Alawite tribe is very small, yet it wields power in Syria. Another powerful tribe aligned to the Alawites is the Druze. I do not know enough about the Druze at this point in time except that some or most are Christians.

      One has to study the Bible, especially within the first 5 books, and especially Genesis to get some idea of the tribal rivalry that has always existed within the region. The Jews have always been separate from these tribes, and I am not taking them into consideration in this analysis. A lot of the history of the region is in fact contained within the Bible.

      The Sunni-Shia rivalry goes back to the 7th century when Islam was created. The rivalry existed after the death of the false prophet Mohammed. There was a split and there has been a struggle ever since that time.

      In each of the countries that have been at war the Sunni vs Shia conflicts become obvious. Iraq is a very strong case with regard to the nature of the Sunni vs Shia conflict. Saddam Hussein was not just a Ba’athist but he was also Sunni. He was responsible for the suppression of the Shia in Iraq. The allied interference in Iraq was in fact encouraged by members of the Shia population who had been oppressed since Saddam Hussein had come to power. This was has been obvious since the invasion began, especially with the bombings of certain mosques.

      I agree,that in Bahrain it is the same story, that the Sunni in charge have been suppressing the Shia. However, in Iran for example, the opposite is the truth, and it is the same in Syria. It is the Sunni in Syria that had been suppressed by the minority Alawite.

      The civil war in Libya is also a good example of the way in which these conflicts play out, because of the way that the tribes aligned themselves. This was probably the only country where it could not be said that the conflict is Sunni vs Shia. This is because the majority of Libyans are neither, but are in fact Sufi. Tribalism had a lot more to do with the conflict in Libya than the religious affiliation. However, the aftermath of the Gadhafi regime is proving to be somewhat different. From what I have been reading neither Sunni nor Shia have been dominant, yet they are trying their hardest to be dominant. Libya is still something that is very tribal. I do believe that there will be more conflict in Libya in the future.

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  3. Norbert Rhodes

    Though sectarian tensions in Lebanon were at their height during the Lebanese Civil War , the Shia–Sunni relations were not the main conflict of the war. The Shia parties of Hizbullah emerged in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War, and emerged as one of the strongest forces following the Israeli withdrawal in the year 2000, and the collapse of the SLA in the South. The situation in Lebanon flared into anti-Shia moods with the assassination of Sunni Rafiq al-Hariri, with Hizbullah and Syria being the main suspects. The tensions blew into a limited warfare between Shia dominated vs Sunni dominated political alliances in 2008. The Shia organization has since attempted to lower the profile. With the eruption of the 2011-2012 Syrian uprising , tensions increased between the Shia affiliated Alawis and Sunnis of Tripoli, erupting twice into deadly violence – on June 2011, and the second time on February 2012 .

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    • I have not been dealing with the previous tensions in Lebanon. It is also an interesting perspective because it comes into play because Syria, as in Assad backs Hezbollah. The money itself comes from Iran, and I think that this is the real point to be made.

      I think you have brought up the most interesting point regarding Rafiq al-Hariri who was a much loved person in Lebanon. His death was no doubt the work of people involved with Hezbollah and the Syrian government.

      For now I am concerned with Syria alone, not Lebanon. Your comment on the subject though, is very welcome. If you can add to your comment it will be appreciated.

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