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TheSunniShiaDivide

AnancientreligiousdivideishelpingfuelaresurgenceofconflictsintheMiddleEastand
Muslim countries. Struggles between Sunni and Shia forces have fed a Syrian civil war that
threatenstotransformthemapoftheMiddleEast,spurredviolencethatisfracturingIraq,and
widened fissures in a number of tense Gulf countries. Growing sectarian clashes have also
sparkedarevivaloftransnationaljihadinetworksthatposesathreatbeyondtheregion.
Islamsschism,simmeringforfourteencenturies,doesntexplainallthepolitical,economic,and
geostrategicfactorsinvolvedintheseconflicts,butithasbecomeoneprismthroughwhichto
understand the underlying tensions. Two countries that compete for the leadership of Islam,
SunniSaudiArabiaandShiaIran,haveusedthesectariandividetofurthertheirambitions.How
theirrivalryissettledwilllikelyshapethepoliticalbalancebetweenSunnisandShiasandthe
futureoftheregion,especiallyinSyria,Iraq,Lebanon,Bahrain,andYemen.
Alongsidetheproxybattleistherenewedfervorofarmedmilitants,motivatedbythegoalsof
cleansingthefaithorpreparingthewayforthereturnofthemessiah.Todaytherearetensof
thousandsoforganizedsectarianmilitantsthroughouttheregioncapableoftriggeringabroader
conflict. And despite the efforts of many Sunni and Shia clerics to reduce tensions through
dialogueandcounterviolencemeasures,manyexpertsexpressconcernthatIslamsdividewill
leadtoescalatingviolenceandagrowingthreattointernationalpeaceandsecurity.
SunniandShiaMuslimshavelivedpeacefullytogetherforcenturies.Inmanycountriesithas
becomecommonformembersofthetwosectstointermarryandprayatthesamemosques.
TheysharefaithintheQuranandtheProphetMohammedssayingsandperformsimilarprayers,
althoughtheydifferinritualsandinterpretationofIslamiclaw.
Shia identity is rooted in victimhood over the killing of Husayn, the Prophet Mohammeds
grandson,intheseventhcentury,andalonghistoryofmarginalizationbytheSunnimajority.
Islamsdominantsect,whichroughly85percentoftheworlds1.6billionMuslimsfollow,viewed
ShiaIslamwithsuspicion,andextremistSunnishaveportrayedShiasashereticsandapostates.
AregionalwarintheMiddleEastdrawsevercloser.UnindependentInternational
CommissionofInquiryontheSyrianArabRepublic

Source:PewResearch,TheFutureoftheGlobalMuslimPopulation,2011

OriginsoftheSchism
MohammedunveiledanewfaithtothepeopleofMeccain610.KnownasIslam,orsubmission
to God, the monotheistic religion incorporated some Jewish and Christian traditions and
expandedwithasetoflawsthatgovernedmostaspectsoflife,includingpoliticalauthority.By
the time of his death in 632, Mohammed had consolidated power in Arabia. His followers
subsequentlybuiltanempirethatwouldstretchfromCentralAsiatoSpainlessthanacentury
after his death. But a debate over succession split the community, with some arguing that
leadershipshouldbeawardedtoqualifiedindividualsandothersinsistingthattheonlylegitimate
rulermustcomethroughMohammedsbloodline.
AgroupofprominentearlyfollowersofIslamelectedAbuBakr,acompanionofMohammed,to
bethefirstcaliph,orleaderoftheIslamiccommunity,overtheobjectionsofthosewhofavored
Ali ibn Abi Talib, Mohammeds cousin and soninlaw. The opposing camps in the succession
debateeventuallyevolvedintoIslamstwomainsects.Shias,atermthatstemsfromshiatuAli,
ArabicforpartisansofAli,believethatAliandhisdescendantsarepartofadivineorder.Sunnis,
meaning followers of the sunna, or way in Arabic, of Mohammed, are opposed to political
successionbasedonMohammedsbloodline.
Alibecamecaliphin656andruledonlyfiveyearsbeforehewasassassinated.Thecaliphate,
whichwasbasedintheArabianPeninsula,passedtotheUmayyaddynastyinDamascusandlater
the Abbasids in Baghdad. Shias rejected the authority of these rulers. In 680, soldiers of the
secondUmayyadcaliphkilledAlisson,Husayn,andmanyofhiscompanionsinKarbala,located
inmoderndayIraq.KarbalabecameadefiningmoralstoryforShias,andSunnicaliphsworried
thattheShiaImamsthedescendantsofHusaynwhowereseenasthelegitimateleadersof
Muslims(Sunnisusethetermimamforthemenwholeadprayersinmosques)woulduse
this massacre to capture public imagination and topple monarchs. This fear resulted in the
furtherpersecutionandmarginalizationofShias.
EvenasSunnistriumphedpoliticallyintheMuslimworld,ShiascontinuedtolooktotheImams
theblooddescendantsofAliandHusaynastheirlegitimatepoliticalandreligiousleaders.Even
withintheShiacommunity,however,therearosedifferencesovertheproperlineofsuccession.
MainstreamShiasbelievethereweretwelveImams.ZaydiShias,foundmostlyinYemen,broke
offfromthemajorityShiacommunityatthefifthImam,andsustainedimamateruleinpartsof
Yemen up to the 1960s. Ismaili Shias, centered in South Asia but with important diaspora
communitiesthroughouttheworld,brokeoffattheseventhImam.MostIsmailisreveretheAga
KhanasthelivingrepresentativeoftheirImam.ThemajorityofShias,particularlythoseinIran
and the eastern Arab world, believe that the twelfth Imam entered a state of occultation, or
hiddenness,in939andthathewillreturnattheendoftime.Sincethen,Twelvers,orIthna
Ashari Shias, have vested religious authority in their senior clerical leaders, called ayatollahs
(ArabicforsignofGod).
Many Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian converts to Islam chose to become Shia rather than
Sunni in the early centuries of the religion as a protest against the ethnic Arab empires that
treatednonArabsassecondclasscitizens.TheirreligionsinfluencedtheevolutionofShiaIslam
asdistinctfromSunniIslaminritualsandbeliefs.

SunnisdominatedthefirstninecenturiesofIslamicrule(excludingtheShiaFatimiddynasty)until
theSafaviddynastywasestablishedinPersiain1501.TheSafavidsmadeShiaIslamthestate
religion,andoverthefollowingtwocenturiestheyfoughtwiththeOttomans,theseatofthe
Sunni caliphate. As these empires faded, their battles roughly settled the political borders of
modernIranandTurkeybytheseventeenthcentury,andtheirlegaciesresultedinthecurrent
demographicdistributionofIslamssects.ShiascompriseamajorityinIran,Iraq,Azerbaijan,and
Bahrain, and a plurality in Lebanon, while Sunnis make up the majority of more than forty
countriesfromMoroccotoIndonesia.
ModernTensions
IransIslamicRevolutionin1979gaveShiaclericAyatollahRuhollahKhomeinitheopportunityto
implementhisvisionforanIslamicgovernmentruledbytheguardianshipofthejurist(velayat
e faqih), a controversial concept among Shia scholars that is opposed by Sunnis, who have
historicallydifferentiatedbetweenpoliticalleadershipandreligiousscholarship.Shiaayatollahs
havealwaysbeentheguardiansofthefaith.Khomeiniarguedthatclericshadtoruletoproperly
performtheirfunction:implementingIslamasGodintended,throughthemandateoftheShia
Imams.
Under Khomeini, Iran began an experiment in Islamic rule. Khomeini tried to inspire further
Islamic revival, preaching Muslim unity, but supported groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan,
Bahrain, and Pakistan that had specific Shia agendas. Sunni Islamists, such as the Muslim
Brotherhood and Hamas, admired Khomeinis success, but did not accept his leadership,
underscoringthedepthofsectariansuspicions.
SaudiArabiahasasizableShiaminorityofroughly10percent,andmillionsofadherentsofa
puritanicalbrandofSunniIslamknownasWahhabism(anoffshootoftheSunniHanbalischool)
thatisantagonistictoShiaIslam.ThetransformationofIranintoanovertlyShiapowerafterthe
IslamicrevolutioninducedSaudiArabiatoacceleratethepropagationofWahhabism,asboth
countriesrevivedacenturiesoldsectarianrivalryoverthetrueinterpretationofIslam.Manyof
the groups responsible for sectarian violence that has occurred in the region and across the
Muslimworldsince1979canbetracedtoSaudiandIraniansources.
SaudiArabiabackedIraqinthe19801988warwithIranandsponsoredmilitantsinPakistanand
AfghanistanwhowereprimarilyfightingagainsttheSovietUnion,whichhadinvadedAfghanistan
in1979,butwerealsosuppressingShiamovementsinspiredorbackedbyIran.
ThetransformationofIranintoanagitatorforShiamovementsinMuslimcountriesseemedto
confirmcenturiesofSunnisuspicionsthatShiaArabsanswertoPersia.Manyexperts,however,
pointoutthatShiasarentmonolithicformanyofthem,identitiesandinterestsarebasedon
morethantheirconfession.IraqiShias,forexample,madeupthebulkoftheIraqiarmythat
foughtIranduringtheIranIraqWar,andShiamilitantgroupsAmalandHezbollahclashedat
timesduringtheLebanesecivilwar.TheHouthis,aZaydiShiamilitantgroupinYemen,battled
thegovernmentofAliAbdullahSaleh,aZaydi,severaltimesbetween2004and2010.Then,in
2014,theHouthiscapturedthecapitalSana'awithoustedpresidentSaleh'ssupport.
For their part, both mainstream and hardline Sunnis arent singularly focused on oppressing
Shias.Theyhavefoughtagainstcoreligioniststhroughouthistory,mostrecentlyinthesuccessive
crackdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Iraqs 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and Saudi

Arabias battles against alQaeda and related Sunni militant groups. Sharing a common Sunni
identity didnt eliminate power struggles among Sunni Muslims under secular or religious
governments.
Butconfessionalidentityhasresurfacedwhereversectarianviolencehastakenroot,asinIraq
afterthe2003U.S.ledinvasionremovedSaddamHussein,adictatorfromtheSunniminority
whoruledoveraShiamajoritycountry.ThebombingofaShiashrineinSamarain2006kicked
offacycleofsectarianviolencethatforcedIraqistopicksides,stirringtensionsthatcontinue
today.
IntheArabworld,ShiagroupssupportedbyIranhaverecentlywonimportantpoliticalvictories.
TheregimeofBasharalAssad,whichhasruledsince1970,reliesonAlawis,aheterodoxShia
sect that makes up about 13 percent of Syrias population, as a pillar of its power. Alawis
dominatetheupperreachesofthemilitaryandsecurityservicesinSyriaandarethebackbone
oftheforcesfightingtosupporttheAssadregimeinSyriascivilwar.Sincethe2003invasionof
Iraq unseated Saddam Hussein and instituted competitive elections, the Shia majority has
dominatedtheparliamentandproduceditsprimeministers.Hezbollah,theLebaneseShiamilitia
and political movement, is the strongest political actor in Lebanon. Shia militants in Yemen,
tenuouslylinkedtoIran,havebecomethecountry'sdominantpower.Iransregionalinfluence
hasswelledasitsalliesinthesecountrieshaveaccumulatedpower.
Sunnigovernments,especiallySaudiArabia,haveincreasinglyworriedabouttheirowngripson
power,aconcernthatwasexacerbatedwiththeprotestmovementthatbeganinTunisiainlate
2010.TheArabAwakening,astheuprisingsareknown,spreadtoBahrainandSyria,countriesat
thefaultlinesofIslamssectariandivide.Ineach,politicalpowerisheldbyasectarianminority
AlawisinSyria,whereSunnisarethemajority,andaSunnirulingfamilyinBahrain,whereShias
are the majority. The civil war in Syria, which is a political conflict at its core, has exposed
sectariantensionsandbecomethestaginggroundforaviciousproxywarbetweentheregions
majorSunniandShiapowers.InYemen,Houthirebelshaveexpandedtheirterritorysouthof
SaudiArabia,providingIranapotentialbeachheadalongthestrategicshippingroutesintheRed
Sea.SomeanalystsviewtheSyrianconflictasthelastchanceforSunnistolimitandreversethe
spreadofIranianpowerandShiainfluenceintheArabworld.
PracticingtheFaith
SunnisandShiasagreeonthebasictenetsofIslam:declaringfaithinamonotheisticGodand
Mohammedashismessenger,conductingdailyprayers,givingmoneytothepoor,fastingduring
theMuslimholymonthofRamadan,andperformingthepilgrimagetoMecca.
TherearedivisionsevenoverthepreceptsofIslam,butthemaindifferencerelatestoauthority,
whichsparkedthepoliticalsplitintheseventhcenturyandevolvedintodivergentinterpretations
ofsharia,orIslamiclaw,anddistinctsectarianidentities.
Shias believe that God always provides a guide, first the Imams and then ayatollahs, or
experiencedShiascholarswhohavewideinterpretativeauthorityandaresoughtasasourceof
emulation.ThetermayatollahisassociatedwiththeclericalrulersinTehran,butitsprimarily
a title for a distinguished religious leader known as a marja, or source of emulation. Irans
supremeleader,AliKhamenei,wasappointedbyanelectedbodyofIranianclerics,whilemaraji
(pluralofmarja)areelevatedthroughthereligiousschoolsinQom,Najaf,andKarbala.Shiascan

choosefromdozensofmaraji,mostofwhomarebasedinholycitiesinIraqandIran.ManyShias
emulateamarjaforreligiousaffairsanddefertoSupremeLeaderAliKhameneiinIranforpolitical
guidance.ForSunnis,authorityisbasedontheQuranandthetraditionsofMohammed.Sunni
religiousscholars,whoareconstrainedbylegalprecedents,exertfarlessauthorityovertheir
followersthantheirShiacounterparts.
Both sects have subdivisions. The divisions among Shias were discussed above. Four schools
comprise Sunni jurisprudence: Hanafi, Shafii, Maliki, and Hanbali, the latter spawning the
WahhabiandSalafimovementsinSaudiArabia.Sunnism,abroadumbrellatermfornonShia
Islam, is united on the importance of the Quran and practice of Mohammed but allows for
differencesinlegalopinion.
DearKarbala,dearNajaf,dearKadhimiyah,anddearSamarra,wewarnthegreatpowersand
theirlackeysandtheterrorists,thegreatIranianpeoplewilldoeverythingtoprotectthem.
IransPresidentHassanRouhani
SectarianMilitants
Communalviolence betweenIslamssectshasbeen rare historically,withmostofthedeadly
sectarian attacks directed by clerics or political leaders. Extremist groups, many of which are
fosteredbystates,arethechiefactorsinsectariankillingstoday.
Thetwomostprominentterroristgroups,SunnialQaedaandShiaHezbollah,havenotdefined
theirmovementsinsectarianterms,andhavefavoredusingantiimperialist,antiZionist, and
antiAmericanframeworkstodefinetheirjihad,orstruggle.Theysharefewsimilaritiesbeyond
the use of violence. Hezbollah has developed a pragmatic political wing that competes in
electionsandispartoftheLebanesegovernment,apathnotchosenbyalQaeda,whichoperates
adiffusenetworklargelyintheshadows.Bothgroupshavedeployedsuicidebombers,andtheir
attacksshiftedfromafocusontheWestandIsraeltootherMuslims,suchasalQaedaskilling
ofShiaciviliansinIraqandHezbollahsparticipationintheSyriancivilwar.
Conflict and chaos have played a role in the reversion to basic sectarian identity. In Iraq, for
instance,remnantsoftheBaathistregimeemployedSunnirhetorictomountaresistancetothe
riseofShiapowerfollowingtheousterofSaddam.Sunnifundamentalists,manyinspiredbyal
QaedascalltofightAmericans,flockedtoIraqfromMuslimcountries,attackingcoalitionforces
andmanyShiacivilians.AbuMusabalZarqawi,whofoundedalQaedasfranchiseinIraq,evoked
ancientantiShiafatwas,orreligiousrulings,tosparkacivilwarinhopesthattheShiamajority
would eventually capitulate in the face of Sunni extremist violence. The Shia community
absorbedthousandsofdeathsbeforefightingbackwiththeirownsectarianmilitias.
Syriascivilwar,whichexceededthecasualtytollofIraqsdecadelongconflictinitsfirstthree
years,hasamplifiedsectariantensionstounprecedentedlevels.Thewarbeganwithpeaceful
protestsin2011callingforanendtotheAssadregime,whichhasruledsince1970.TheAssad
family and other Alawis have stirred resentment by Syrias majority Sunnis after decades of
repressionandasectarianagendathatelevatedminorityAlawisingovernmentandtheprivate
sector. The 2011 protests and brutal government crackdown uncovered sectarian tensions in
Syria,whichhaverippledacrosstheregion.

TensofthousandsofSyrianSunnisjoinedrebelgroupssuchasAhraralSham,theIslamicFront,
andalQaedasNusraFront,whichallemployantiShiarhetoric;similarnumbersofSyrianShias
andAlawisenlistedwithanIranbackedmilitiaknownastheNationalDefenseForcetofightfor
the Assad regime. Foreign Sunni fighters from Arab and Western countries joined the rebels,
whileLebanonsHezbollahandsomeShiamilitiasfromIraqsuchasAsaibAhlalHaqandKata'ib
Hezbollah backed the Syrian government. Even Afghan Shia refugees in Iran have reportedly
beenrecruitedbyTehranforthewarinSyria,pittingthemagainstSunniforeignfighterswho
may have forced the Afghans into exile decades earlier. Syrias civil war has attracted more
militantsfrommorecountriesthanwereinvolvedintheconflictsinAfghanistan,Chechnya,and
Bosniacombined.
AlQaeda in Iraq, decimated by the Awakening of Sunni Iraqis who joined the fight against
extremists,theU.S.ledmilitarysurge,andthedeathofZarqawi,foundnewpurposeinexploiting
the vacuum left by the receding Syrian state. It established its own transnational movement
knownastheIslamicStateinIraqandSyria(ISIS).ThegroupexpandeditsgriponSunniprovinces
in Iraq and eastern regions in Syria, seizing Iraqs secondlargest city, Mosul, in June 2014. It
defied orders from alQaedas top commanders to curtail its transnational ambitions and
extremism,whichledtoISISsexpulsionfromalQaedainFebruary2014.ISISrebrandedasthe
IslamicStateinJuly2014anddeclareditsleader,AbuBakralBaghdadi,ascaliph.Thegroup's
highlypublicizedkillingofWesternhostagestriggeredacampaignofairstrikesbytheUnited
StatesanditsregionalalliesJordan,Qatar,SaudiArabia,andtheUnitedArabEmirates.
ExtremistgroupshavecometorelyonsatellitetelevisionandhighspeedInternetoverthepast
two decades to spread hate speech and rally support. Fundamentalist Sunni clerics, many
sponsoredbywealthySunnisfromSaudiArabiaandtheGulfstates,havepopularizedantiShia
slurs.Shiareligiousscholarshavealsotakentotheairwaves,mockingandcursingthefirstthree
caliphsandAisha,oneofMohammedswives.
Sectarian rhetoric dehumanizing the other is centuries old. But the volume is increasing.
DismissingArabShiasasSafawis,atermthatpaintsthemasIranianagents(fromtheSafavid
empire)andhencetraitorstotheArabcause,isincreasinglycommoninSunnirhetoric.Hardline
SunniIslamistshaveusedharsherhistorictermssuchasrafidha,rejectersofthefaith,andmajus,
Zoroastrian or crypto Persian, to describe Shias. Iranian officials, Iraqs prime minister, and
HassanNasrallah,theleaderofHezbollah,routinelydescribetheirSunniopponentsastakfiris
(codeforalQaedaterrorists)andWahhabis.Thiscycleofdemonizationhasbeenexacerbated
throughouttheMuslimworld.
For Sunni extremists, new technologies and socialmedia channels have revolutionized
recruitment opportunities. Fundamentalists no longer have to infiltrate mainstream mosques
and attract recruits surreptitiously, but can now disseminate their call to jihad and wait for
potentialrecruitstocontactthem.ThesechannelsarentasusefulforrecruitingShiamilitants,
whobenefitfromstatesupportinSyria,Iraq,andIran,andcanopenlyadvertisetheircallsfor
sectarianjihad.
Terroristviolencein2013wasfueledbysectarianmotivations,markingaworrisometrend,in
particularinSyria,Lebanon,andPakistan.USDepartmentofState

FlashPoints
SunniShiatensionscontributetomultipleflashpointsinMuslimcountriesthatareviewedas
growing threats to international peace and security. The following arouse the most concern
amongregionalspecialists:
RisingMilitancy
Notableconcernabouttheroleofsectarianviolenceincreasedin2013.Extremistswerefueled
by sectarian motivations in Syria, Lebanon, and Pakistan, according to the U.S. State
Department. After years of steady losses for alQaedalinked groups, Sunni extremist
recruitmentisrising,aidedbyprivatefundingnetworksintheGulf,particularlyinKuwait,with
muchoftheviolencedirectedatotherMuslimsratherthanWesterntargets.Shiamilitantsare
alsogainingstrength,inparttoconfrontthethreatofSunniextremism,miringmanyMuslim
communitiesinaviciouscycleofsectarianviolence.
U.S. officials such as FBI director James B. Comey have warned that the war in Syria, which
attractedthousandsoffightersfromEuropeandtheUnitedStates,posesalongtermthreatto
Westerninterests.Theeventualoutflowofthesemilitants,battlehardenedandwithWestern
passports, is viewed as a potential terrorist diaspora that could eclipse the global terror
networksthatemergedaftertheAfghanwaragainsttheSovietUnioninthe1980s.
SaudiIranianRivalry
SaudiArabiaandIranhavedeployedconsiderableresourcestoproxybattles,especiallyinSyria,
wherethestakesarehighest.Riyadhcloselymonitorspotentialrestlessnessinitsoilricheastern
provinces,hometoitsShiaminority,andhasdeployedforcesalongwithotherGulfcountriesto
suppressalargelyShiauprisinginBahrain.ItalsoassembledacoalitionoftenSunnimajority
countries,backedbytheUnitedStates,toreversethegrowinginfluenceofHouthisinYemen.
SaudiArabiaprovideshundredsofmillionsofdollarsinfinancialsupporttothepredominantly
SunnirebelsinSyria,whilesimultaneouslybanningcashflowstoalQaedaandextremistjihadi
groupsfightingtheAssadregime.
IranhasallocatedbillionsofdollarsinaidandloanstopropupSyriasAlawiledgovernment,and
hastrainedandequippedShiamilitantsfromLebanon,Iraq,Syria,andAfghanistantofightwith
varioussectarianmilitiasinSyria.Atthesametime,thewideningproxybattlemayalsobestirring
concernamongleadersinRiyadhandTehranabouttheconsequencesofescalation.Thetwo
sides have repeatedly postponed efforts to establish a dialogue for settling disputes
diplomatically. Iran is fighting the Islamic State in parts of Iraq, while Saudi Arabia and other
SunnimajoritycountriesjoinedaU.S.ledaircampaignagainsttheextremistgroupinSyriaand
Iraq.
HumanitarianCrisis
TheongoingcivilwarinSyriahasdisplacedmillionsinternally,andalmostthreemillioncivilians,
mostlySunni,arenowrefugeesinLebanon,Jordan,Iraq,andTurkey.Theinfluxofmorethana
million Syrians into Lebanon, a state with a historically combustible religious mix that
experienced its own fifteen year civil war in the 1970s and 1980s, has burdened its cash
strapped government and pressured communities hosting refugees. Jordan and Iraq are still
struggling to provide housing and services to an impoverished and traumatized population.

Turkey has the greatest capacity to provide humanitarian aid, yet Ankara must increasingly
balancethepublicssympathyforanduneasetowardrefugeestheInternationalCrisisGroup
reports.
FracturedStates
Syriascivilwar,aswellasIraqssectarianconflict,isthreateningtoredrawthemapoftheMiddle
EastbequeathedtotheregionbyBritishandFrenchcolonialauthorities.TheAssadregimein
SyriahasconsolidatedcontrolovertheMediterraneancoast,thecapitalofDamascus,andthe
central city of Homs, which together comprise a rump state that connects with Hezbollah
strongholds, threatening the territorial integrity of Lebanon. Other parts of the country are
contested or controlled by various rebel and Islamist groups, including ISIS, which seeks to
dominate the eastern regions of Syria that link to its territory in Iraq. And Kurdish groups in
northernSyria,which,liketheirIraqicousins,havelongcampaignedforbasicrightsdeniedunder
theBa'athistgovernment,areonthevergeofgainingdefactoindependence.Yemen,whichwas
unifiedin1990,isatriskofrefracturingintotwocountries,largelyalongsectarianlines.
TheUnitedStatesspentmorethanonetrilliondollarstostabilizeIraq,butthecountryremains
in a precarious state. Sectarian tensions are mounting in Iraq as the newly ascendant Shia
majority struggles to accommodate the Sunni minority and deal with the Kurdish Regional
Government in the north of the country while confronting extremist Sunni groups. Most
politicians and activists in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon reject attempts to redraw the map of the
region,butthevanishingbordersandemergenceofnewareasofinfluencebasedonsectarian
andethnicidentitiesareagrowingexistentialchallenge.
Sunnishadnootheroptionbuttodefendthemselvesandusearms.Wereachedapointofto
beornottobe.TariqalHashimi,FormerVicePresidentofIraq
THEEND
Source:
http://www.cfr.org/peaceconflictandhumanrights/sunnishiadivide/p33176#!/?cid=tcp
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