The day began strangely as it ended. Early this morning I was sitting in Costa’s supping the flat white and plodding through my latest read, Lesley Hazleton’s narrative of the ongoing rivalry between Shia and Sunni, After the Prophet. The Battle of the Camel, which took place outside Basra in 656 ended the read for today and with that battle came the knowledge that Karbala some twenty four years later only cemented a division that was already inevitable.
How deep that division actually is became all too apparent while perusing the ‘Gulf News’ in the very same Costa’s this evening and while there might be much to fault in Abdullah Al Shayji’s article “Urgent Need to Stem Sectarian Conflict“, there can be no disagreement with his main thesis which is aptly summed up by his quotation of Brookings Institution fellow Geneive Abdo who said:
“it (the Shiite-Sunni divide) is well on its way to displacing the broader conflict between Muslims and the West … and likely to supplant the Palestinian occupation as the central mobilising factor for Arab political life.”
Sensitivities are touched, absurdities abound, and the Saudi Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh hails the Egyptian-Qatari Sunni hothead Shaikh Yousuf Al Qaradawi who claims that “Alawaites and Shiites are even worse than Christians and Jews”. Geneive Abdo, it would appear, is correct in his contention.
Yes, my Turkish neighbour’s little joke begins to make sense; an Arab fighting one Turk and ….? Well the Arab has every chance of winning, two Turks and two Arabs ….? and when it gets to three Arabs fighting three Turks, the Turks would win every time, because the Arabs would be fighting among themselves. There we have it, the division is deep, and divide and rule was never easier. The Project for the New American Century remains on course, Iran next stop, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine continues apace.