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
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:
If you ask me the Sunni Shia conflict as it has gotten momentum after the Iraq war had three main reasons:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
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:
- 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.
- USA: Through divide and conquer, the insurgency against the US turned towards violence between the insurgents.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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
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:
“In 2003, under the pretext of a war on terror, the US invaded Iraq. Eleven years later, it is the Jihadists of ISIS who can say “mission accomplished.” Iraq and Syria are in ruins, soaked with the blood of several hundred thousand people, and millions of their nationals are scattered to the wind as refugees. ”
“Isis regards Shia as apostates or heretics who have betrayed the faith and deserve death. Where Shia cannot defend themselves they have fled, in places such as Tal Afar, with a population of 300,000 Shia Turkoman, west of Mosul where fighting is still going on. Isis is primarily an anti-Shia movement in Iraq and Syria, its violent sectarianism so extreme that it was one of the reasons why it was criticised by al-Qa’ida. There are reports the few Shia who lived in Mosul and stayed have been given 24 hours to convert to Sunni Islam or die.”
“…nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have long bolstered extremist groups operating in the Middle East and beyond. They include the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the latter’s most recent incarnation, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).”
“Cooperation is needed to see Maliki depart as Prime Minister when the Iraqi parliament meets and the installation of a new and effective Iraqi government.”
“Witnesses on the ground in Iraq say that multiple groups with significant political differences have set those divisions aside to unite against the sectarian government of Nouri Al-Maliki. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is one of those groups, but they are playing a smaller role. Mosul and Tal Afar are in the hands of the General Military Council of the Iraqi Revolutionaries, liberated from Maliki’s brutal sectarian rule. Only a strong, coordinated military organization—not 1000 or even several thousand undisciplined extremists—could take and hold a city the size of Mosul (1.4 million) and continue to advance.”
“An overwhelming Shia Muslim majority is ruled by a Sunni Muslim royal family who bestow privileged, expedited citizenship on (Sunni) foreign nationals. These non-Bahrainis are then employed in the security sector to enforce authoritarian rule and skew the island’s demographics…“
“In the last two years scores of children have been arrested and detained in connection with ongoing anti-government protests in predominantly Shi’a towns and villages in Bahrain. In a number of cases children have reportedly been tortured or otherwise ill-treated to force them to sign “confessions” which were then used in court to incriminate them and others.”
“The demolition of Shia mosques occurred right at the onset of the government’s crackdown, numbering over 30 in just a few months. This included the historic, 400-year-old Amir Mohammed Barbagi Mosque which was completely leveled. ”
“…he [Prince Andrew] said: “I believe that what’s happening in Bahrain is a source of hope for many people in the world and a source of pride for Bahrainis.””
“This is very strange, as the island kingdom of Bahrain has a proven record of jailing and torturing protesters demanding democratic rights for the Shia majority…”
“the government in Bahrain crushed the Bahraini version of the Arab Spring, treating protesters and anybody associated with them, such as doctors who treated injured demonstrators, with extreme brutality. The Bahrain independent commission of inquiry, set up by the Bahraini government itself, described at least 18 different techniques used to mistreat or torture detainees including electric shocks, beating on the soles of the feet with rubber hoses, sleep deprivation and threats of rape. More than 30 Shia mosques, religious meeting places and holy sites were bulldozed on the pretext that they had no planning permission.”
“Any action that serves sectarian sedition serves takfiri goals,” Nasrallah said. “Takfiris want us to target our Sunni brothers, but this won’t happen.”
“In a discussion with Al-Monitor, Iraqi writer and journalist Abdul Amir al-Majar said, “The culture of suicide, which wasn’t known in Iraq, is a new [jihadist] trend that has swept the Arab countries. Some young Arabs are being influenced by this distorted model and lured under the pressure of various feelings. But any political or ideological disagreement, regardless of how significant, cannot justify a man blowing himself up among innocent people just because he disagrees with them ideologically, unless such a person has been brainwashed.”