Samir’s Selection 12/07/2015 (a.m.)

    • in recent decades it has been Sunnis, who comprise 85% of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, who have projected a sense of victimhood. How did the dominant sect of the world’s second-largest religion come to feel such self-pity?
    • Theologically, Sunni Islam struggled to reconcile its loss of sovereign power with its continued self-assurance as a religion. Muhammad the Prophet had conquered Arabia and within decades his successors extended the realm of Islam across North Africa and the Middle East, symbolising Islam’s spiritual as well as material growth. The waning of that empire was taken to indicate an erosion of faith. The doubt mounted when, over just 18 days in 2003, America toppled the most powerful Sunni ruler in the Fertile Crescent, replaced Saddam Hussein’s rule with a Shia-majority government, and flung open the country’s borders—not least to its Shia rival to the east, Iran. When America withdrew its troops eight years later, Iran and its satellites filled the vacuum. In their dotage, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the kingpins of the Sunni-majority Arab world, offered limp resistance.
    • It was in 1920 that Winston Churchill, then Britain’s war secretary, ordered the Royal Air Force to bomb Iraq in an attempt to subdue a rebellion. Old habits die hard. So, too, do the grievances.
  • Ultimately, the only people able to create and sustain a viable alternative to the Islamic State are the local population. That will only be possible if they can create a durable government, and if other states in the region stop providing financial support, and safe-haven to Islamic state fighters. That in turn will only be possible when Sunni states cease to believe that the Islamist fighters are their allies against Iran.

    tags: RoryStewart Syria Iraq MiddleEast Arab Turkey ISIS Iran war foreignpolicy UK

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