Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Clash between Sunni and Shiite now political

Because Islam is a global religion and America has significant strategic interests in the region, the escalating tensions between the two countries are going to have global repercussions. Where once the clash between Sunni and Shiite was religions, now it is more political.

In lots of hotbed places the conflict is between Sunni and Shiite majorities.

In Iraq, the Shiite-dominated army has been seen as a strong-arm of former Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and an oppressive force by majority Sunnis in the north. That’s why many were happy to have the Sunni-dominated Islamic State group make gains across the north. And as the Islamic State group grows in strength and numbers — experts say would-be jihadis have flocked to its forces in northern Syria since the declaration of the caliphate — the Sunni-Shiite conflict will intensify and spread.

Syria is a majority-Sunni country, but the regime of President Bashar Assad is a close ally of Shiite-dominated Iran.

The declaration by the Islamic State group, known as ISIS stated that it was establishing a “new caliphate” through its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Islamic State is a Sunni group and its stated goals are to create a territory run by a caliph and Shariah, or Islamic law. In a video announcing the caliphate last June, the group described al-Baghdadi as “descendant from the family of the Prophet, the slave of God” — perhaps an attempt to legitimate him in the eyes of Shiites. If they — or any other Muslims — fail to recognize the new caliphate, they will be considered apostates and can be killed under Shariah.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is much more challenged on the economic front, more isolated regionally and globally, and beset with succession issues, given the King's controversial decision to empower the 30-year old son Mohammed bin Salman. They hate the international attention on them given the growing ISIS concerns and want to make regional tensions an Iran story, which helps them domestically. All of which leads toward escalation.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said at a news conference, ‘We are determined not to let Iran mobilize or create or establish terrorist cells in our country or in the countries of our allies. We will push back against Iran's attempts to do so.’ On Monday, Saudi Arabia moved to cut off all commercial ties with Iran and bar its citizens from travelling there.

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