The origin of the “modern” Sunni Shia conflict

This conflict is not going on forever as stated by many people who lack the knowledge and hence oversimplify and trivialize. Less than two decades ago there was not such a violent conflict. Hence this is not an endless conflict and we can go back to the situation that we had not too long ago.

We have to take a look at the beginnings, analyze the ones who profited most and stop to listen to their rhetoric

http://qz.com/476191/remembering-the-bomb-that-started-the-middle-easts-sectarian-war/

Another interesting article on this topic is the following one written by Seymour Hersh the Pulitzer Prize winner for the New Yorker in 2007. What he wrote then can explain a lot of things that are happening today in the middle east:
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection

If you ask me the Sunni Shia conflict as it has gotten momentum after the Iraq war had three main reasons:

  1. It was a “good” way of divide and conquer used by the US who had big problems fighting Sunni and Shia insurgency. Violence between these two groups took the load off the US army in Iraq.
  2. After the invasion of Iraq, Iran had emerged as the winner of the happenings, neither the self called “leader of the Arab world” Saudi Arabia nor their partners, the US, could be happy about this outcome. Saudi Arabia as country that is suppressing its own Shia minority was not happy to have a Shia dominated Iraq, and a democracy as a neighbor. Democracy in Iraq would indeed be poised to put a Shia leadership on Shia majority Iraq.
  3. Arab public polls in 2006 (as effect of the war between Israel and Hezbollah) had shown that the Arab public was in fact favorizing non Sunni leaders. The most favorite politicians were Hassan Nasrallah, Bashar Assad and Ahmadinejad. (Two Shia and one Alawite).
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7347613.stm
    http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Poll-Nasrallah-most-admired-leader-in-Arab-world
    This was a major blow back for the wannabe “leaders of the Arab world”. Strengthening sectarianism seemed to improve Saudi Arabia’s position in a Arab world that was favorizing non Sunni leaders that were in contrast to the leadership of Saudi Arabia not appeasing to the West and to Israel.

Iran was in its best position right after Saddam was removed, and a huge military threat next to Iran was removed make Iran the undisputed power after Israel in the region. With the start of the sectarian conflict Iran has only lost, as this conflict has inflicted huge costs on Iran. It is also interesting to point out that Iran was in its policies mainly opposed to Israel was never going against Sunnis. Infact Iran’s opposition to Israel was on behalf of Sunni Palestinans, who were supported by Iran and Syria more than by any country in the Persian Gulf region (mostly crazily rich countries that never took any Sunni refugees while advocating them selves as truly Sunni nations.

So, who profited:

  1. Saudi Arabia: With the US worried about Iran as emerging power in the region, arms sales to Sunni monarchies took off, making Saudi Arabia the biggest importer of US and European weapons. the result is a more and more aggressive foreign policy by Saudi Arabia. The positive or at least neutral views on Shia and the anger on Sunni monarchies are replaced with fear and hate mongering towards Shia, making Saudi Arabia the protector of Sunnis in the region (though Saudi Arabia has refused to take any Syrian refugees, leaving the load on the shoulders of much poorer nations in the region and on the shoulder of Christian European countries.
  2. USA: Through divide and conquer, the insurgency against the US turned towards violence between the insurgents.
  3. Israel: The opposition and hate towards Israel was replaced with hate between the two main factions of Islam, fighting off each other at heavy costs, while Sunni Arab countries and Israel moving closer together than ever before.
    Israeli official: Israel quite content if Syria war goes on

    Jerusalem Post: Israel treating al-Qaida fighters wounded in Syria civil war
    The biggest opposing Arab power and most dangerous neighbor set back for decades and thrown into a devastating civil war.

But how would these profiteers fuel the conflict and keep it rolling:

  1. Use proxies in Iraq to start attacks on Shia, trying to provoke counter attacks. Thanks god for the most counter attacks remained quite rare, also because Grand Ayatollah Sistani the most important Shia leader called for Iraqi unity and discouraged counter attacks for almost a decade until finally calling for resistance, not against Sunni Iraqis but against IS.
  2. Declare a for the Arab world NOT uncommon way, of putting down demonstrations in Syria, as a sectarian war towards Sunnis, even though Assad had been the most secular leader in the Arab world and the only one standing up against Israel. Hosting the biggest share of Sunni Palestinians for years,  having a Sunni wife he was hardly some one fighting Sunnis. Using opinion building tools like Al Jazeera and Al Arabia (controlled by the Qatari and Saudi monarchs) the Syrian conflict was miss portrayed of an Army of Alawites fighting the Sunni people of Syria. 5 Years into the conflict it is clear that the Syrian Army is consists of a big share of Sunnis who rather fight against the opposition who is more and more non Syrian with the biggest and most mighty groups (IS and Al Nusra) being mainly foreign mercenaries from Chechnya, Tunisia, … , where as Sunni Syrians often flee from rebel owned areas to Government controlled areas.
    Read more about this: here

 

Very interesting – British Journalist reports from inside Syria – THE TELEGRAPH

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10770311/Syria-As-the-bombs-fall-the-people-of-Damascus-rally-round-Bashar-al-Assad.html

The West may oppose Assad’s regime, but on the streets of the capital the people fear a greater evil.

Several of its suburbs are held by rebel fighters, who pound government-held areas with mortars.

most people live under the shadow of constant attack.

Many of the shells land harmlessly, or do not explode. Others cause mayhem. On Tuesday, one struck a school in Bab Touma (St Thomas’s Gate), killing one child and wounding roughly 40. And over the past few days the volume of the bombardment has escalated sharply.

Over the past few days, I have talked to shopkeepers, students, soldiers, doctors, a dentist, MPs and government ministers (including the minister for tourism, who must have the most thankless job in the world). On the basis of these conversations, I would judge not just that support for the regime is holding up, but that President Assad could very well win a popular election, even if carried out on a free and fair basis.

I found – to my surprise – that even people outside the governing Ba’ath party, including some of Assad’s political opponents, said they would support him.

People here see their country as being threatened by foreign powers (above all Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all backed by the West) who are sponsoring the jihadist groups that make up the opposition. I was struck by the fact that this argument is not made only by the Alawite coterie around the president. I also heard it from Sunni Muslims, Christians and members of the various other cultural and religious groups that abound in Syria.

Only a handful of members of Assad’s 30-strong cabinet (I was told two) are Alawite. The prime minister is Sunni, as are the interior minister, the justice minister, the foreign minister, even the defence minister. The delegation that travelled to Geneva for the failed peace talks several months ago was also almost entirely composed of Sunni Muslims (though they would probably reject sectarian terms, and prefer to think of themselves just as Syrians).

I do think the words of my shopkeeper friend are worth pondering. If the insurgents who killed his mother win the war, there will be no Christian churches in Syria any more (just as there aren’t in Saudi Arabia at the moment). Life will be similarly terrible for many of the ordinary Muslims who make up the great majority of the population.

There are no “good guys” in Syria’s civil war. But we should not be blind to the fact that there is a project out there to destroy its rich, pluralist and unbelievably intricate culture and replace it with a monochrome version of Wahhabi Islam, of the kind favoured by Saudi mullahs. And for reasons that history may come to judge very severely, Britain, the United States, and the West have been aiding and abetting this project.

Qatar sentences poet for 15 years jail for a poem criticizing the emir

Mr Ajami was originally jailed for life last year but the sentence was reduced to 15 years on appeal in February.

The case against Mr Ajami was said to have been based on a poem he wrote in 2010 which criticised the former emir, Sheikh Hamad Al Thani.

The father of four, also known as Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb, has said the poems were not meant to be offensive or seditious.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24612650

Syria and the geopolitics of gas

Qatar shares the largest gas field in the world with Iran, the South Pars (Iranian appellation) / North Dome (Qatari appellation). Tensions exist between the two countries because Iran is unable to extract its gas as fast as Qatar, mainly because of the sanctions imposed on Iran (Tehran frowns upon the Qatari extraction which is “emptying” the common gas field).

2012-12-29-250pxSouthParsLocationMap.jpg

More than a year ago, Iran, Iraq and Syria signed an agreement for the construction of a pipeline supposed to transport gas from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea in order to supply Europe.

Meanwhile, Qatar transports its gas through the Strait of Hormuz and is therefore dependent on Iran for its exports (with LNG tankers which then need to pass through the Suez Canal). The Emirate had plans to build a gas pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria. But, Bashar al-Assad blocked this project, preferring to sign an agreement with his Iranian ally, but above all, to preserve its long-term energy deals with Russia.

As a result, Europe — which is largely dependent on the Russian giant Gazprom for its energy needs — has an interest in seeking a competitor to lower its growing gas bill. We understand that a Sunni power could protect a Qatar-Saudi Arabia-Jordan-Syria pipeline to diversify its sources. Besides, this path would allow Europe to further isolate Iran by preventing it getting supplies from a “Shia pipeline” Iran-Iraq-Syria.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/milad-jokar/war-in-syria-geopolitics-_b_2378683.html

Why France, UK and Germany dance to the tune of Qatar

France enjoys a privileged partnership with one of Iran’s main competitors, namely Qatar. Under Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency, Emir Hamad Ben Khalifa al-Thani was the first Arab State leader to be received at the Elysées Palace in 2007. It is now François Hollande who continues this special relationship. Since his election, Qatar is the country which was received the most at the Elysées with a visit of the Emir on August 22 and two more discreet visits of Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasem al-Thani.

This economic power invests billions in real estate, in the capital of CAC 40 companies (such as Total, Vivendi, Veolia, Lagardère, Suez, LVMH or even Bouygues and Vinci for the different sites of the world to the Qatar 2022 and also the construction of the Friendship Bridge between Qatar and Bahrain), sport (with the purchase of the Parisian club PSG — soccer and handball), the media (Al Jazeera acquired French Champions League rights) and most recently in projects in the Parisian suburbs.
With the European economic crisis, Qatar’s partnership with France gives the small Emirate the ability to sway the French decision-making, something Qatar denies.
 
Same investments in Germany where Qatar holds 17 percent of the capital of Volkswagen, 10 percent of Porsche, 9 percent of the Hochtief construction giant or even more recently 3 percent of Siemens.
 
The Qatari investments are also important in Great Britain. With 20 percent of the shares of the London Stock Exchange, Qatar is the main shareholder of Barclays. The Emirate has also invested massively in the Olympic Games, it has financed 95 percent of the highest building in London (the Shard) and British homes are supplied by up to 59.3 percent by Qatar’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
 
As a result, Qatar advances its long-term interest by investing and signing important contracts with the European governments in crisis. Therefore, Qatar — the first Arab country to propose Arab military intervention — has more leverage to increase pressure against Damascus and through the U.N. Security Council (leverage Qatar also has in the Arab world through al Jazeera).
 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/milad-jokar/war-in-syria-geopolitics-_b_2378683.html

Syrian rebels have received tons of weapons (yet still whine around)

“They do not need arms. It is an unchallenged figure that 3,500 tons of arms have been shipped in by way of Croatia with the assistance of the CIA, funded by the Saudis, funded by the Qataris…”

“If it is the case that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are today funding the very jihadists against which we are fighting, why are we not using international pressure, the United States, the European Union, to persuade Saudi Arabia and Qatar to stop, to prevent this?”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10153629/Syria-3500-tons-of-weapons-already-sent-to-rebels-says-Lord-Ashdown.html