Back in March 2007 I wrote here that the Israelis and the US were attempting to wedge the Sunni minority and the Shia majority in Iraq in order to project those differences throughout the region to create animosity between predominately Sunni nations in the hope of alienating the predominately Shia nation of Iran.
Apart from the friction between Saddam Hussein’s minority Sunni led government and the rest of the Shia population in Iraq, most Sunni and Shia folk throughout the rest of the Middle East had lived in relatively peaceful coexistence. What trouble did bubble up between the two sects was usually stirred up by the Israelis with the civil war that went on in Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s being a classic example.
The reason Israel is anxious to keep the two at each others throats is because it is Israel to a large extent that actually united the two groups – until now. Until recently Hezbollah (Shia) and Hamas (Sunni) were close allies united by their common cause of defending their respective lands against Israeli aggression and territorial expansion. Hamas even had an office in Damascus where some of its leaders were domiciled because it was too dangerous for them to live in the Gaza Strip where they could be targeted for assassination by Israeli death squads. Hamas were even supplied with weapons from Iran. And at one point the Saudis actually signed a ‘Pledge of Friendship’ with the Iranians in an effort to thwart sectarian violence from spreading out of Iraq.
But all that has been to no avail.
When the war started in Syria and moved on from being a secular rebellion to become a sectarian battle it was hoped that, at the very least, the sectarianism could be contained within the bounds of Syria and between Syrians. It wasn’t long, however, before the Israelis and the US encouraged the Saudis and the Qatari’s to arm the Sunni rebels and promote foreign Sunni fighters to join the rebels in the war against the Syrian government. The rest we all now know about. You’ve seen and heard about the atrocities being committed against each other. Each day it gets worse.
But what of the future? Can, once the madness that is the Syrian war is over, the two religious sects resolve their differences or have the Israelis and their neocon friends pushed them beyond any reconciliation in the near future? On the other hand, any wrong move from Israel against Islam generally could just as easily see the two sects unite to fight a common foe.