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

 

“Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years” sais head of the International Red Cross

Five months of war in Yemen has wrought destruction similar to that seen in Syria after five years, said the head of the International Red Cross on Wednesday.

Returning from a visit to the war-ravaged nation, Peter Maurer told the Associated Press that entrenched poverty, months of intensified warfare and limits on imports because of an international embargo have contributed to “catastrophic” conditions.

“The images I have from Sanaa and Aden remind of what I have seen in Syria,” said Maurer. “So Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years.”

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/11813169/Yemen-already-looks-like-Syria-after-five-years-of-war.html

An interesting anecdote from the Iraq-Iran war

Saddam Hussein’s goal for attacking Iran was to conquer Iranian oil fields.

Saddam was thinking that (Sunni) Arab Iranians would be oppressed in Iran (as Shia are oppressed in many Arab countries) and would join forces with their Arab “brothers” from the Iraqi Army, but the opposite was the case Arab Iranians felt more as Iranians than as Arabs and fiercely defended their homeland Iran and stopped the mighty Iraqi Army until the surprised Iranian army could finally send help to the Iraqi border.

This story beautifully shows how Arab leaders speculated and finally invented an oppression of the (Sunni) Arab minority in Iran, and were surprised by the realities on the ground, that these allegedly oppressed minorities felt pretty much Iranian, and nearer to their fellow Shia Iranians than to external Sunni and even Shia Arabs.

Great book that covers the Iraq-Iran war and other conflicts in the Middle East:

http://www.amazon.com/Great-War-Civilisation-Conquest-Middle/dp/1400075173/ref=la_B001IXS5RS_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1443905977&sr=1-1

Executions in Saudi Arabia on the rise. Nearly half of the executed foreign nationals. Foreigners 8 times more likely to be executed for the same crime.

Saudi Arabia has executed at least 175 people over the last 12 months, on average one person every two days, according to a report released on Tuesday by Amnesty International.
The report said at least 102 people had been put to death in the first six months of 2015, compared with 90 across the whole of 2014.

Saudi courts allow for people to be executed for adultery, apostasy and witchcraft.

People can also be executed for crimes committed when they were below 18 years of age.

In May this year, Saudi Arabia advertised for eight new executioners to cope with an increasing number of death sentences. The role, posted on the civil service jobs portal, was described as “executing a judgment of death” as well as performing amputations on those convicted of lesser offences.

Although foreigners make up just one quarter of the oil rich state’s population, Amnesty reported they made up the majority of all those sent to death row. Its report revealed that at least 1,695 executions were carried out between 1985 and May 2008, with the number of non-nationals totalling 830, compared with 809 local citizens. It was impossible to ascertain the nationality of the remaining 56.

But it is in the number of reprieves that the greatest disparity lies. Amnesty claimed that a pardon is granted in one in every four capital cases involving a Saudi citizen but only one in 30 of each foreign case. Many of those foreigners lacked the Arabic skills to understand court proceedings and charges.

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/saudiarabia/3192085/Foreigners-eight-times-more-likely-to-be-executed-in-Saudi-Arabia-report-says.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/25/saudi-arabia-executed-175-people-amnesty-international

http://www.nairaroot.com/saudi-executes-175-half-been-foreigners/#.Vf3EfigqSNk

Saudi Arabia: Raif Badawi – Intolerance and Sectarianism Saudi Style

“Raif Badawi is a Saudi citizen who started an Internet forum called “Free Saudi Liberals” that discussed the role of religion in Saudi Arabia.  He was arrested by authorities in July 2012 and charged with cyber crime and disobeying his father.  According to Human Rights Watch he founded his website in 2008 to “encourage debate on religious and political matters in Saudi Arabia.  Articles on his website were critical of senior religious figures. At his first trial he was sentenced to 7 years in jail and 600 lashes.  In July 2014 an appellate court ordered a new trial.  At the second trial Badawi was sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined one million riyals for creating his website and an additional five years in prison and 1,000 public lashes for “blasphemous phrases on his Face book page and disobedience to his father. He doesn’t get all the lashes at one time.  There will be 20 sessions of 50 lashes each.  Badawi’s lawyer, Waleed Ab al-Khair, didn’t have a better summer than his client.

As reported by Human Rights Watch, on July 2014 al-Khair received a 5-year prison sentence because he criticized Saudi human rights abuses in media interviews and on social media.

The same day Badawi was sentenced, the same court sentenced the administrator of a website to six years in jail and a 50,000 riyal fine.  His crime was “supporting Internet forums hostile to the state. . . which promoted demonstrations.” Another website administrator got a five year sentence for publishing a column written by a Sh’ite Muslim cleric.

Fahdil al-Manasif helped international journalists who were covering protests that occurred as a result of Saudi treatment of Shia Muslims in the eastern province of the country.  He will spend 14 years in prison for his efforts. On November 3, 2014 Mikhlif al-Shammari was sentenced to two years in prison and 200 lashes.  One of his crimes was visiting a prominent Shia figure in the eastern part of the country as a goodwill gesture.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/16/intolerance-saudi-style/

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.

Amnesty: Saudi Arabia increasing repression even more, still Saudis speak from “daily progress”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24607253

“Four years ago, Saudi Arabian diplomats came to Geneva and accepted a string of recommendations to improve human rights in the country. Since then, not only have the authorities failed to act, but they have ratcheted up the repression,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.

Promises the Gulf Kingdom made to the UN Human Rights Council in 2009 were “nothing but hot air”, a report claims.

The authorities continue to crack down on activists through “arbitrary arrests and detention, unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment”, it adds.

In March, two founders of the prominent Saudi Civil and Political Rights Organisation (ACPRA), were sentenced to 10 and 11 years respectively.

The men, who used Twitter to promote human rights, were found guilty by a court of “breaking allegiance and disobeying the ruler”, “undermining unity”, “questioning the integrity of officials”, “seeking to disrupt security” and “inciting disorder by calling for demonstrations”.

Torture and other ill-treatment during detention is rife and carried out with impunity, the report says.

It documents other alleged violations, including “systemic discrimination of women in both law and practice” and “abuse of migrant workers”.

The report also accuses the Sunni-ruled kingdom of “discrimination against minority groups”, including Shia in Eastern Province, where many have been arrested for taking part in protests to demand greater rights and several have been killed.

Bandar bin Mohammed al-Aiban, who is the president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, added: “Tangible progress has been achieved on a daily basis,”