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Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
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It was crude stuff. President Trump called on 55 Muslim leaders assembled in Riyadh to drive out terrorism from their countries. He identified Iran as a despotic state and came near to calling for regime change, though Iran held a presidential election generally regarded as fair only two days previously.

He denounced Hezbollah and lined up the US squarely on the side of the Sunni against the Shia in the sectarian proxy war that is tearing apart the Middle East.

The impact of US presidential visits and speeches abroad are generally over-rated and turn out to have far less influence than was claimed at the time.

Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo in 2009 about the conflicts in the region was more sophisticated than anything Mr Trump said in Riyadh, but it turned out to denote no new departures in US policy. The same may turn out to be true of Mr Trump’s address.

The most important aspect of Mr Trump’s two-day visit to Saudi Arabia is that it took place at all. He chose to go first to the world’s most thorough-going autocracy where his speech will be lauded by the state-controlled media.

But the radicalism of what he said can be exaggerated because so far his policies towards Syria, Iraq, Turkey and other countries in the region are so far little different from what Mr Obama did in practice.

Almost all of the 55 Muslim rulers and leaders in the vast hall in Riyadh will have breathed a little easier on hearing Mr Trump’s repeated call “to drive out terrorism”, since they have always described anybody who opposes their authority as “terrorists”.

This will be a green-light to people like Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to go on imprisoning and torturing Muslim Brotherhood members. American pressure on the ruling Sunni minority in Bahrain to stop persecuting the Shia majority was always tame, but Mr Trump’s praise for the island’s rulers may make the situation even worse.

Mr Trump’s failure to refer to human rights’ abuses was criticised by some observers, but more serious than his words was his presence in Riyadh before an audience of autocrats.

Saudi leaders will be pleased by Mr Trump’s condemnation of Iran as the fountainhead of terrorism. This was the most substantive part of speech and is the one most likely to increase conflict.

The Saudis will see it as a licence to increase their support for proxy wars being waged against Shia movements and communities in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and beyond. Houthi militiamen in Yemen and Shia militiamen in Iraq and Syria are often referred to as “Iranian-backed”, which may or may not be true, but it is their Shiism which is by far the most important determinant of their political identity.

In targeting them, Mr Trump is plugging the US into the ferocious sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia.

This is not a war that is going to be won by either side, but the stance of the Trump administration will help ensure that it goes on being fought. Ever since Mr Trump was elected, Iraqi leaders in Baghdad have been concerned that a deeper confrontation between the US and Iran will further destabilise Iraq, just as the Iraqi security forces are getting control of the last enclaves of Isis control in Mosul.

An escalation in the war in Yemen by the Saudi backed forces could close the port of Hodeida on the Red Sea coast through which is imported much of the food reaching the 17 million Yemenis on the verge of famine.

In the last years of Mr Obama, US public opinion was increasingly focussed on Saudi Arabia as the country most to blame for 9/11 because 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis as was Osama bin Laden and, according to a CIA report, the private financing for the operation. Senior US officials have repeatedly pointed to financing from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf as essential to the rise of Isis and al-Qaeda type organisations in Iraq and Syria.

Mr Trump himself blamed Saudi Arabia for 9/11 during the presidential election campaign, but this was all forgotten when he spoke in Riyadh. This might have two serious consequences: leaders of the Shia community fear that Isis may be nominally destroyed but the bulk of its fighters could simply join other anti-Shia paramilitary movements in Iraq and Syria.

As for driving out “terrorism” from Muslim societies for which Mr Trump called, one important aspect of the growth of al-Qaeda type movements has been the way in which Saudi Arabia has used its oil wealth for half a century to spread Wahhabism, its puritanical and fanatical variant of Islam. This has become an increasingly predominant influence over mainstream Sunni Islam, increasing its sectarianism.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. This will have been an information gathering trip for Trump and one can expect him to bring back a few useful ideas from Saudi Arabia, such as sword dances, public beheadings, appointing a crown prince or princess from among his family members, and solving the problem of women drivers. If this leads to a Trump golf resort in Riyadh, that will be a bonus.

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  2. I cannot think of anything good coming from this – I cannot believe this is where we are at, as far as policy is concerned, after 15 years of this madness.

    And how exactly are we going to square this with our relationship with Russia who has thrown their weight on the other side of the coin?

    Peace.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Randal

    And how exactly are we going to square this with our relationship with Russia who has thrown their weight on the other side of the coin?
     
    What "relationship with Russia" is that, then?

    Russia as always will be presented with the choice of rolling over and getting kicked, or getting kicked harder. It consistently chose the former in the 1990s and as a result was rewarded with tolerant contempt from the US elites (and repeated kicks). That changed after the end of the Yeltsin years when the Russians decided to stop rolling over and to stand up for themselves, with the results we have seen, culminating in the current Russophobic hysteria.

    Russia (and China) will have to choose again between backing their fellow non-member of the US globosphere, Iran, or letting the US create another unholy calamity for the world while eliminating one more point of resistance.
  3. This will be a green-light to people like Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to go on imprisoning and torturing Muslim Brotherhood members.

    Oh noes.

    Read More
  4. There’s a reflection on what Trump could have done.

    He could have pulled out of the ME, avoided visiting Israel and Saudi Arabia (both linked to 9/11), not bombed Syria, made friends with Russia, and excluded the Goldman Sachs crowd, Kushner and his daughter from his cabinet – but he didn’t.

    By surrounding himself with more New York financiers and Zionists than ever, and taking their side against Bannon, he’s lost his base, and his new friends secretly hate him, so he’s just a waste of space heading for the exit.

    Read More
  5. Talha above writes:
    “And how exactly are we going to square this (anti-Iran stance) with our relationship with Russia who has thrown their weight on the other side of the coin?”
    The demonization of Iran has been the sticking point in the attempt at getting Detente 2.0 all along. And that comes from the Apartheid Jewish State. Progressives correctly call out Israel for its policy of long slow genocide against the Palestinians, now considered de rigeur for pwogs. BUT they do not call out the malign influence of the Apartheid Jewish State on US foreign policy for that would be “anti-Semitic.” In fact it is this influence which demands the US be anti-Iran and consequently anti-Russian which is a threat to world peace and puts us on the road to nuclear annihilation.
    Israel thus becomes a threat to human survival. Time for regime change there. And definitely time for the US to cut Israel lose-for the sake of survival.

    Read More
  6. I agree that Trump may have made matters worse, but to be honest my (US) Government has consistently supported the Sunni side(s) and opposed the Shia side for the past several decades — despite the objective fact that there has really never been a significant Shia terrorist group anywhere on the planet, unlike the Sunnis’ Al Qaeda, ISIS and several other Sunni terrorist groups. But hey, when did “objective facts” matter to my Government? And so it goes.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Fredrik
    That's not entirely true. The Iranians were bad people in the 80's. The fact that they were fighting the West's best friend Saddam Hussein clearly had nothing to do with that...

    Khomeini most likely also was more radical than his successors.

    To summarize I won't feel sorry for the clerics if the Iranian regime falls but I wonder what kind of people will take over...
    , @serge
    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
  7. Why are we seeking solutions from the Mafia to keep peace in ME ? Is it because we haven’t stopped seeking peace and justice from the pious efforts of the dynastic nepotistic exclusive club of the warmongers at home?

    Read More
  8. Is there anything that this guy won’t do for money? I believe he would even sell his mama or spouse for money if he gets into a bind! He should be ashamed of himself to play with and do the sword dance with a family who provided sanctuary and supported the 15 Sunni Saudi terrorists who killed over 3000 Americans on 9/11!
    We all know that he will be tweeting proudly next week about how many jobs he will be creating by selling $110B worth of arms to SA to kill more Yemenis! Of course he won’t mention anything about the cheaper crude oil that Tillersen will purchase for EXXON, which distills it, and sells the gasoline to the Americans at $3.00/gal! (Close to 40 gal out of every barrel of oil is converted to gasoline).

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  9. Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias

    I find this misleading on so many level. It has nothing to do with Trump, nor the US is on Sunni side. The US is on its own side. The strategy is, as it has always been, to divide and rule; simple as that. And to divide, any ‘identity’ would do: Shia, Sunni, Cristian, Kurd, Alawi, Palestinian, anything at all. IOW, if the fake, meaningless Sunni/Shia animosity suddenly disappeared, that would’ve been a disaster, and the US is on the side of keeping it alive.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Randal

    The US is on its own side
     
    Pretty questionable assumption, especially as far as ME policy is concerned.
    , @Talha
    Good points! Maybe it is a quid pro quo that US and Russia get to sell arms to their respective proxies. Perpetual war means perpetual bling-bling!

    Peace.
    , @The Anti-Gnostic
    The Shia-Sunni conflict is centuries old and incorporates ethnic rifts as well. Persians and Arabs despise each other. And Syrian and Lebanese Arabs tend to be more "Mediterranean" in outlook.

    Here's what's going on: the Sunni powers have reached a détente with Israel, and the Shia powers have not. US policy in the Middle East is dictated by Israel, which considers Iran and its allies in Lebanon and Syria to be existential threats. Israel is also looking to solidify its claim to the Golan Heights. So the US, under the Trump Administration, dutifully aligns with the Sunni Arabs. Business as usual, unfortunately.

    US liberals operate under a strange omerta with respect to Israel.
  10. Birds of a feather flock together.
    POTUS felt love and comfort amongst fellow head-choppers.
    Ivanka got 100 $ mil.
    Anglo terrorist alliance got 34k units of cannon fodder in war against Sovereign and Independent Nations.
    Huge success which guarantees MAD.

    Read More
  11. @Mao Cheng Ji

    Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
     
    I find this misleading on so many level. It has nothing to do with Trump, nor the US is on Sunni side. The US is on its own side. The strategy is, as it has always been, to divide and rule; simple as that. And to divide, any 'identity' would do: Shia, Sunni, Cristian, Kurd, Alawi, Palestinian, anything at all. IOW, if the fake, meaningless Sunni/Shia animosity suddenly disappeared, that would've been a disaster, and the US is on the side of keeping it alive.

    The US is on its own side

    Pretty questionable assumption, especially as far as ME policy is concerned.

    Read More
    • Replies: @nsa
    Mao Cheng Jooie is probably a fake asian name. The use of popular cliches like "divide and rule" indicates a domestic non-asian troll who watches too much TalmudVision, and probably an aipac volunteer. Yu mao velly long time solly jooie plick.......
  12. @Mao Cheng Ji

    Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
     
    I find this misleading on so many level. It has nothing to do with Trump, nor the US is on Sunni side. The US is on its own side. The strategy is, as it has always been, to divide and rule; simple as that. And to divide, any 'identity' would do: Shia, Sunni, Cristian, Kurd, Alawi, Palestinian, anything at all. IOW, if the fake, meaningless Sunni/Shia animosity suddenly disappeared, that would've been a disaster, and the US is on the side of keeping it alive.

    Good points! Maybe it is a quid pro quo that US and Russia get to sell arms to their respective proxies. Perpetual war means perpetual bling-bling!

    Peace.

    Read More
  13. @Talha
    I cannot think of anything good coming from this - I cannot believe this is where we are at, as far as policy is concerned, after 15 years of this madness.

    And how exactly are we going to square this with our relationship with Russia who has thrown their weight on the other side of the coin?

    Peace.

    And how exactly are we going to square this with our relationship with Russia who has thrown their weight on the other side of the coin?

    What “relationship with Russia” is that, then?

    Russia as always will be presented with the choice of rolling over and getting kicked, or getting kicked harder. It consistently chose the former in the 1990s and as a result was rewarded with tolerant contempt from the US elites (and repeated kicks). That changed after the end of the Yeltsin years when the Russians decided to stop rolling over and to stand up for themselves, with the results we have seen, culminating in the current Russophobic hysteria.

    Russia (and China) will have to choose again between backing their fellow non-member of the US globosphere, Iran, or letting the US create another unholy calamity for the world while eliminating one more point of resistance.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey Randal,

    Well, I was hoping that the Trumpster would bring us back to a more sane stance on the relationship. There were some good signs on the horizon at the beginning and during the campaign. At this point, I don't know what to think other than the Neocon and Military Industrial Complex influence conflated with Saudi petro-dollars is making all the calls at this point - irrespective of what the voters ever wanted.

    Peace.
    , @reiner Tor

    That changed after the end of the Yeltsin years when the Russians decided to stop rolling over and to stand up for themselves, with the results we have seen, culminating in the current Russophobic hysteria.
     
    This policy change started under Yeltsin already. In 1999 the Russian leadership (and that probably included Yeltsin) got really really angry as Poland, Czechia and Hungary joined NATO and a few days later NATO started bombing Serbia. The then Russian prime minister Primakov was on board a Russian government jet over the Atlantic on his way to Washington, DC, and expected that the Americans will announce the bombing after meeting him. However, the Americans announced the bombing while he was still over the Atlantic. This was considered an affront, throwing salt into the wounds of their pride. So Primakov ordered the plane to do a U-turn and return to Moscow.

    Interestingly, his plane was full of a Russian commercial delegation consisting mostly of businessmen (i.e. probably oligarchs). When he announced the U-turn to the passengers (including the business delegation), everybody cheered loudly, including the businessmen.

    I think back then the whole Russian elite rethought its friendship to the West. After that, oligarchs might still send some of their money to the supposed safety of the West, but the feelings were lost. It was merely convenience, for personal interests, and the Russian elites qua Russian elites stopped being friendly to the West.

    There's a lot more continuity between the Yeltsin and Putin regimes than most people think. Putin continues the Yeltsin foreign policy started in 1999 - the increasing suspicion and hostility towards the West and its ever increasing encroachment into what they believed to be Russia's turf.

    (Even things like the Crimea or South Ossetia are the continuation of earlier, in many cases much earlier Yeltsin policies - the latter was established, and the former was made a Russian base, already under Yeltsin.)

  14. Trump was not elected–he was selected by a selection, aka super delegates [SD]. This means that SD were not afraid of what DT would do. Turned out, SD were correct in choosing DT as president.

    He, like every other President post-ww2, is defending US wealthy people’s interest abroad and at home also the wealth/health of the wealthy and their dictatorial powers.

    Obama was more warlike than Bush, but we still don’t know whether DT will be as or more warlike than Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama.

    By what Trump did militarily so far, we cannot tell. His two military raids on Syria have, reportedly, killed only about 14 people.

    In Iraq, it is mostly iraqis killing iraqis.

    Read More
  15. @Randal

    The US is on its own side
     
    Pretty questionable assumption, especially as far as ME policy is concerned.

    Mao Cheng Jooie is probably a fake asian name. The use of popular cliches like “divide and rule” indicates a domestic non-asian troll who watches too much TalmudVision, and probably an aipac volunteer. Yu mao velly long time solly jooie plick…….

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji
    Ho-ho, hit the nerve, eh? I love it, when it happens.
  16. @Randal

    And how exactly are we going to square this with our relationship with Russia who has thrown their weight on the other side of the coin?
     
    What "relationship with Russia" is that, then?

    Russia as always will be presented with the choice of rolling over and getting kicked, or getting kicked harder. It consistently chose the former in the 1990s and as a result was rewarded with tolerant contempt from the US elites (and repeated kicks). That changed after the end of the Yeltsin years when the Russians decided to stop rolling over and to stand up for themselves, with the results we have seen, culminating in the current Russophobic hysteria.

    Russia (and China) will have to choose again between backing their fellow non-member of the US globosphere, Iran, or letting the US create another unholy calamity for the world while eliminating one more point of resistance.

    Hey Randal,

    Well, I was hoping that the Trumpster would bring us back to a more sane stance on the relationship. There were some good signs on the horizon at the beginning and during the campaign. At this point, I don’t know what to think other than the Neocon and Military Industrial Complex influence conflated with Saudi petro-dollars is making all the calls at this point – irrespective of what the voters ever wanted.

    Peace.

    Read More
  17. Trump may end up enacting some good, lasting policies in immigration. But we have to recognize that the bumbling narcissist may end up making some costly policy mistakes. Will these mistakes be acceptable price to pay for some good immigration policies? May be. Maybe not. The correct answer is not obvious to me at this point.

    Read More
  18. @nsa
    Mao Cheng Jooie is probably a fake asian name. The use of popular cliches like "divide and rule" indicates a domestic non-asian troll who watches too much TalmudVision, and probably an aipac volunteer. Yu mao velly long time solly jooie plick.......

    Ho-ho, hit the nerve, eh? I love it, when it happens.

    Read More
  19. Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side

    Translation: Arab side.

    If it was a ferocious sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia, the Saudis would not be vociferously complaining about the treatment of the Arab minority in Iran , even though that minority are Shia.

    Strange to relate, conflicts between nations are just that, but Cockburn is oblivious to anything but the WEIRD disbelievers’ religious analysis of all the regions troubles.

    Read More
  20. @Mao Cheng Ji

    Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
     
    I find this misleading on so many level. It has nothing to do with Trump, nor the US is on Sunni side. The US is on its own side. The strategy is, as it has always been, to divide and rule; simple as that. And to divide, any 'identity' would do: Shia, Sunni, Cristian, Kurd, Alawi, Palestinian, anything at all. IOW, if the fake, meaningless Sunni/Shia animosity suddenly disappeared, that would've been a disaster, and the US is on the side of keeping it alive.

    The Shia-Sunni conflict is centuries old and incorporates ethnic rifts as well. Persians and Arabs despise each other. And Syrian and Lebanese Arabs tend to be more “Mediterranean” in outlook.

    Here’s what’s going on: the Sunni powers have reached a détente with Israel, and the Shia powers have not. US policy in the Middle East is dictated by Israel, which considers Iran and its allies in Lebanon and Syria to be existential threats. Israel is also looking to solidify its claim to the Golan Heights. So the US, under the Trump Administration, dutifully aligns with the Sunni Arabs. Business as usual, unfortunately.

    US liberals operate under a strange omerta with respect to Israel.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    So the US, under the Trump Administration, dutifully aligns with the Sunni Arabs.
     
    Nonsense. During the Iraq war the US 'sided' (ostensibly) with the Shia, making "Sunnis oppress the Shia" the centerpiece of their propaganda. Before that, there was no discernible permanent sectarian conflict (only occasionally). Like I said, the US created it for the usual imperial reasons.

    It's true that Iran conducts independent foreign policy and is considered an enemy, and SA and the US coexist in a sort of symbiosis. But this has nothing to do with any sectarian or ethnic shit. Garden variety geopolitics.

  21. @The Anti-Gnostic
    The Shia-Sunni conflict is centuries old and incorporates ethnic rifts as well. Persians and Arabs despise each other. And Syrian and Lebanese Arabs tend to be more "Mediterranean" in outlook.

    Here's what's going on: the Sunni powers have reached a détente with Israel, and the Shia powers have not. US policy in the Middle East is dictated by Israel, which considers Iran and its allies in Lebanon and Syria to be existential threats. Israel is also looking to solidify its claim to the Golan Heights. So the US, under the Trump Administration, dutifully aligns with the Sunni Arabs. Business as usual, unfortunately.

    US liberals operate under a strange omerta with respect to Israel.

    So the US, under the Trump Administration, dutifully aligns with the Sunni Arabs.

    Nonsense. During the Iraq war the US ‘sided’ (ostensibly) with the Shia, making “Sunnis oppress the Shia” the centerpiece of their propaganda. Before that, there was no discernible permanent sectarian conflict (only occasionally). Like I said, the US created it for the usual imperial reasons.

    It’s true that Iran conducts independent foreign policy and is considered an enemy, and SA and the US coexist in a sort of symbiosis. But this has nothing to do with any sectarian or ethnic shit. Garden variety geopolitics.

    Read More
    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
    Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq was suppressed because a heavy handed Sunni dictator, Saddam Hussein, kept the lid on the cauldron. Same with Syria, where a Shia (Alawite) dictator enforced tolerance.

    The Sunni-Shia conflict way pre-dates the US and is, roughly speaking, a contest between the Persians and peninsular Arabs; they've been trading body-blows for centuries. The whole region is riven with inter-ethnic and inter-tribal conflict, on which the British and French imposed an ill-fitting Westphalian model.

    , @reiner Tor
    The Khuzestani Arabs' supposed oppression by Iran was already a cause célèbre of Saddam Hussein, but they were then (as probably now) quite uninterested in their "liberation" by their Sunni Arab "brethren".
  22. @Randal

    And how exactly are we going to square this with our relationship with Russia who has thrown their weight on the other side of the coin?
     
    What "relationship with Russia" is that, then?

    Russia as always will be presented with the choice of rolling over and getting kicked, or getting kicked harder. It consistently chose the former in the 1990s and as a result was rewarded with tolerant contempt from the US elites (and repeated kicks). That changed after the end of the Yeltsin years when the Russians decided to stop rolling over and to stand up for themselves, with the results we have seen, culminating in the current Russophobic hysteria.

    Russia (and China) will have to choose again between backing their fellow non-member of the US globosphere, Iran, or letting the US create another unholy calamity for the world while eliminating one more point of resistance.

    That changed after the end of the Yeltsin years when the Russians decided to stop rolling over and to stand up for themselves, with the results we have seen, culminating in the current Russophobic hysteria.

    This policy change started under Yeltsin already. In 1999 the Russian leadership (and that probably included Yeltsin) got really really angry as Poland, Czechia and Hungary joined NATO and a few days later NATO started bombing Serbia. The then Russian prime minister Primakov was on board a Russian government jet over the Atlantic on his way to Washington, DC, and expected that the Americans will announce the bombing after meeting him. However, the Americans announced the bombing while he was still over the Atlantic. This was considered an affront, throwing salt into the wounds of their pride. So Primakov ordered the plane to do a U-turn and return to Moscow.

    Interestingly, his plane was full of a Russian commercial delegation consisting mostly of businessmen (i.e. probably oligarchs). When he announced the U-turn to the passengers (including the business delegation), everybody cheered loudly, including the businessmen.

    I think back then the whole Russian elite rethought its friendship to the West. After that, oligarchs might still send some of their money to the supposed safety of the West, but the feelings were lost. It was merely convenience, for personal interests, and the Russian elites qua Russian elites stopped being friendly to the West.

    There’s a lot more continuity between the Yeltsin and Putin regimes than most people think. Putin continues the Yeltsin foreign policy started in 1999 – the increasing suspicion and hostility towards the West and its ever increasing encroachment into what they believed to be Russia’s turf.

    (Even things like the Crimea or South Ossetia are the continuation of earlier, in many cases much earlier Yeltsin policies – the latter was established, and the former was made a Russian base, already under Yeltsin.)

    Read More
    • Replies: @Randal
    Yes, the Kosovo war was clearly the key turning point, but remember Yeltsin resigned at the end of 1999 so dating it to the end of the Yeltsin era is pretty reasonable. And in fairness it's unlikely Yeltsin himself knew all that much about anything for the last couple of years running up to his resignation.
  23. Trump supports terrorists. Trump is a terrorist. Iran fights terrorists. Russia fights terrorists. Only in that sense is Iran or Russia an enemy of the United States.

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  24. @Mao Cheng Ji

    So the US, under the Trump Administration, dutifully aligns with the Sunni Arabs.
     
    Nonsense. During the Iraq war the US 'sided' (ostensibly) with the Shia, making "Sunnis oppress the Shia" the centerpiece of their propaganda. Before that, there was no discernible permanent sectarian conflict (only occasionally). Like I said, the US created it for the usual imperial reasons.

    It's true that Iran conducts independent foreign policy and is considered an enemy, and SA and the US coexist in a sort of symbiosis. But this has nothing to do with any sectarian or ethnic shit. Garden variety geopolitics.

    Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq was suppressed because a heavy handed Sunni dictator, Saddam Hussein, kept the lid on the cauldron. Same with Syria, where a Shia (Alawite) dictator enforced tolerance.

    The Sunni-Shia conflict way pre-dates the US and is, roughly speaking, a contest between the Persians and peninsular Arabs; they’ve been trading body-blows for centuries. The whole region is riven with inter-ethnic and inter-tribal conflict, on which the British and French imposed an ill-fitting Westphalian model.

    Read More
    • Agree: reiner Tor
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq was suppressed because a heavy handed Sunni dictator, Saddam Hussein, kept the lid on the cauldron.
     
    You have the right to an opinion, but as far as I know (from talking to a bunch of people from the region), that's not true. Yes, Saddam was suppressing militant Islamist organizations. That's a small minority. Ordinary people simply didn't care. Mixed marriages were extremely common, and no one would give a damn whether you're Sunni or Shia. It was a secular state, just like Syria before the war.

    The Sunni-Shia conflict way pre-dates the US
     
    There is no "Sunni-Shia conflict". There are hate-mongering politicians, using sectarian identities to achieve their goals. Same's the case with the non-existing "contest between the Persians and peninsular Arabs". Pick a random 'peninsular Arab' and ask him if he has a contest with the Persians.
  25. @Mao Cheng Ji

    So the US, under the Trump Administration, dutifully aligns with the Sunni Arabs.
     
    Nonsense. During the Iraq war the US 'sided' (ostensibly) with the Shia, making "Sunnis oppress the Shia" the centerpiece of their propaganda. Before that, there was no discernible permanent sectarian conflict (only occasionally). Like I said, the US created it for the usual imperial reasons.

    It's true that Iran conducts independent foreign policy and is considered an enemy, and SA and the US coexist in a sort of symbiosis. But this has nothing to do with any sectarian or ethnic shit. Garden variety geopolitics.

    The Khuzestani Arabs’ supposed oppression by Iran was already a cause célèbre of Saddam Hussein, but they were then (as probably now) quite uninterested in their “liberation” by their Sunni Arab “brethren”.

    Read More
  26. @The Anti-Gnostic
    Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq was suppressed because a heavy handed Sunni dictator, Saddam Hussein, kept the lid on the cauldron. Same with Syria, where a Shia (Alawite) dictator enforced tolerance.

    The Sunni-Shia conflict way pre-dates the US and is, roughly speaking, a contest between the Persians and peninsular Arabs; they've been trading body-blows for centuries. The whole region is riven with inter-ethnic and inter-tribal conflict, on which the British and French imposed an ill-fitting Westphalian model.

    Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq was suppressed because a heavy handed Sunni dictator, Saddam Hussein, kept the lid on the cauldron.

    You have the right to an opinion, but as far as I know (from talking to a bunch of people from the region), that’s not true. Yes, Saddam was suppressing militant Islamist organizations. That’s a small minority. Ordinary people simply didn’t care. Mixed marriages were extremely common, and no one would give a damn whether you’re Sunni or Shia. It was a secular state, just like Syria before the war.

    The Sunni-Shia conflict way pre-dates the US

    There is no “Sunni-Shia conflict”. There are hate-mongering politicians, using sectarian identities to achieve their goals. Same’s the case with the non-existing “contest between the Persians and peninsular Arabs”. Pick a random ‘peninsular Arab’ and ask him if he has a contest with the Persians.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey Mao,

    Yeah, it wasn't so bad within our own lifetimes:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6muj4bVr2Uw

    https://www.google.com/search?q=saudi+king+visits+iran&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjY14GTrYTUAhVrjVQKHeBfB4MQ_AUICygC&biw=1344&bih=774#tbm=isch&q=saudi+king+visits+shah+iran

    There is a Sunni-Shiah conflict that extremists on both sides want to keep going and the cool-headed scholars want to stamp out:
    http://ammanmessage.com/

    Persia was, for the majority of her Muslim history, probably considered the champion of Sunni Islam. Imam al-Juwayni (ra) - the teacher of Imam Ghazali (ra) being one of the most famous Persians that taught in the two Holy cities such that he was subsequently always referred to Imam al-Haramayn. The Safavids turned that around, but their beef was with the Ottomans or Mughals as temporal rivals, not the Gulf Arabs. The most recent upswing in hostility started with the ascent of the Salafi-Wahhabis, though even they weren't too keen on fighting with Persia (as can be seen by the video). It was after the Revolution in 1979 that things started progressively getting worst with the US-Saudi-Israeli alliance trying to undermine Iran again and again.

    I think if we would get out of that region, the various peoples would be forced to just deal with each other instead of thinking good old Uncle Sam is going to back them up in a fight (or do their fighting for them). Our presence/influence there is toxic.

    Peace.
  27. One of the worst mistakes that could occur in a Trump presidency is if he places America in the middle of a Sunni-Shiite religious war by taking sides in such a fight.

    Putting America into the middle of such a fight would definitely be an “America Last” type of policy. He’ll make some money for his new friends among the Merchants of Death. But, many Americans will die and America will spend a fortune by being in the middle of such a war.

    Assuming that Trump avoids kicking off a nuclear war that ends humanity, this is probably the next biggest mistake he could possibly make. Why on earth should Americans die in a fight to determine the supremacy of Sunnis or Shiites?

    Read More
  28. @Mao Cheng Ji

    Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq was suppressed because a heavy handed Sunni dictator, Saddam Hussein, kept the lid on the cauldron.
     
    You have the right to an opinion, but as far as I know (from talking to a bunch of people from the region), that's not true. Yes, Saddam was suppressing militant Islamist organizations. That's a small minority. Ordinary people simply didn't care. Mixed marriages were extremely common, and no one would give a damn whether you're Sunni or Shia. It was a secular state, just like Syria before the war.

    The Sunni-Shia conflict way pre-dates the US
     
    There is no "Sunni-Shia conflict". There are hate-mongering politicians, using sectarian identities to achieve their goals. Same's the case with the non-existing "contest between the Persians and peninsular Arabs". Pick a random 'peninsular Arab' and ask him if he has a contest with the Persians.

    Hey Mao,

    Yeah, it wasn’t so bad within our own lifetimes:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=saudi+king+visits+iran&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjY14GTrYTUAhVrjVQKHeBfB4MQ_AUICygC&biw=1344&bih=774#tbm=isch&q=saudi+king+visits+shah+iran

    There is a Sunni-Shiah conflict that extremists on both sides want to keep going and the cool-headed scholars want to stamp out:

    http://ammanmessage.com/

    Persia was, for the majority of her Muslim history, probably considered the champion of Sunni Islam. Imam al-Juwayni (ra) – the teacher of Imam Ghazali (ra) being one of the most famous Persians that taught in the two Holy cities such that he was subsequently always referred to Imam al-Haramayn. The Safavids turned that around, but their beef was with the Ottomans or Mughals as temporal rivals, not the Gulf Arabs. The most recent upswing in hostility started with the ascent of the Salafi-Wahhabis, though even they weren’t too keen on fighting with Persia (as can be seen by the video). It was after the Revolution in 1979 that things started progressively getting worst with the US-Saudi-Israeli alliance trying to undermine Iran again and again.

    I think if we would get out of that region, the various peoples would be forced to just deal with each other instead of thinking good old Uncle Sam is going to back them up in a fight (or do their fighting for them). Our presence/influence there is toxic.

    Peace.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    It was after the Revolution in 1979 that things started progressively getting worst with the US-Saudi-Israeli alliance trying to undermine Iran again and again.
     
    Why, exactly, like I said: geopolitics. Once Iran achieved independence in 1979 and stopped being American client state - boom! all this 'sunni vs shia/arabs vs persians' bullshit suddenly jumps out of the woodwork. War propaganda, or 'information war', as they call it now. It's all that is.
  29. @richard young
    I agree that Trump may have made matters worse, but to be honest my (US) Government has consistently supported the Sunni side(s) and opposed the Shia side for the past several decades -- despite the objective fact that there has really never been a significant Shia terrorist group anywhere on the planet, unlike the Sunnis' Al Qaeda, ISIS and several other Sunni terrorist groups. But hey, when did "objective facts" matter to my Government? And so it goes.

    That’s not entirely true. The Iranians were bad people in the 80′s. The fact that they were fighting the West’s best friend Saddam Hussein clearly had nothing to do with that…

    Khomeini most likely also was more radical than his successors.

    To summarize I won’t feel sorry for the clerics if the Iranian regime falls but I wonder what kind of people will take over…

    Read More
  30. Put the U.S> on the sunni side?”

    It’s Wahhabaism that’s in Arabia, NOT sunni, or shiite.
    Wahhabism is the most violent, psycho, woman-hating sect there is!
    The WORST!

    Read More
  31. Well all due respect, the speech in Saudi Arabia struck me as a rather clever speech compared to the previous 2 Presidents.

    The gist of the speech was the Saudis need to get their act together.

    Unlike Marco Rubio, it’s pretty clear that Trump is not going to undue the nuclear agreement with Iran.

    And unlike Obama, I’m not at all sure that Trump will permit war crimes in Yemen to continue. But we will see.

    Read More
  32. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Rather than picking sides, Trump seems to be pulling a Zaharoff and cozying up to the side with deeper pockets. USD 350 billion are coming the way of Lockheed Martin et al. and creating a few thousands of US jobs.

    As they say in Israel, “let it last a hundred years.”

    Read More
  33. @reiner Tor

    That changed after the end of the Yeltsin years when the Russians decided to stop rolling over and to stand up for themselves, with the results we have seen, culminating in the current Russophobic hysteria.
     
    This policy change started under Yeltsin already. In 1999 the Russian leadership (and that probably included Yeltsin) got really really angry as Poland, Czechia and Hungary joined NATO and a few days later NATO started bombing Serbia. The then Russian prime minister Primakov was on board a Russian government jet over the Atlantic on his way to Washington, DC, and expected that the Americans will announce the bombing after meeting him. However, the Americans announced the bombing while he was still over the Atlantic. This was considered an affront, throwing salt into the wounds of their pride. So Primakov ordered the plane to do a U-turn and return to Moscow.

    Interestingly, his plane was full of a Russian commercial delegation consisting mostly of businessmen (i.e. probably oligarchs). When he announced the U-turn to the passengers (including the business delegation), everybody cheered loudly, including the businessmen.

    I think back then the whole Russian elite rethought its friendship to the West. After that, oligarchs might still send some of their money to the supposed safety of the West, but the feelings were lost. It was merely convenience, for personal interests, and the Russian elites qua Russian elites stopped being friendly to the West.

    There's a lot more continuity between the Yeltsin and Putin regimes than most people think. Putin continues the Yeltsin foreign policy started in 1999 - the increasing suspicion and hostility towards the West and its ever increasing encroachment into what they believed to be Russia's turf.

    (Even things like the Crimea or South Ossetia are the continuation of earlier, in many cases much earlier Yeltsin policies - the latter was established, and the former was made a Russian base, already under Yeltsin.)

    Yes, the Kosovo war was clearly the key turning point, but remember Yeltsin resigned at the end of 1999 so dating it to the end of the Yeltsin era is pretty reasonable. And in fairness it’s unlikely Yeltsin himself knew all that much about anything for the last couple of years running up to his resignation.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Yeltsin knew enough to replace his prime ministers twice. He might've been a drunkard, but he had to have his act together to the extent that he replaced his prime ministers twice in his last year as he was searching for a reliable successor not dangerous to his family.
    , @5371
    IMO the default of 1998 was the crucial step. Before that many thought Yeltsin would be succeeded by the west's guy. There was a lot of unannounced consolidation of the political system behind the scenes afterwards.
  34. @Randal
    Yes, the Kosovo war was clearly the key turning point, but remember Yeltsin resigned at the end of 1999 so dating it to the end of the Yeltsin era is pretty reasonable. And in fairness it's unlikely Yeltsin himself knew all that much about anything for the last couple of years running up to his resignation.

    Yeltsin knew enough to replace his prime ministers twice. He might’ve been a drunkard, but he had to have his act together to the extent that he replaced his prime ministers twice in his last year as he was searching for a reliable successor not dangerous to his family.

    Read More
  35. @Randal
    Yes, the Kosovo war was clearly the key turning point, but remember Yeltsin resigned at the end of 1999 so dating it to the end of the Yeltsin era is pretty reasonable. And in fairness it's unlikely Yeltsin himself knew all that much about anything for the last couple of years running up to his resignation.

    IMO the default of 1998 was the crucial step. Before that many thought Yeltsin would be succeeded by the west’s guy. There was a lot of unannounced consolidation of the political system behind the scenes afterwards.

    Read More
  36. @Talha
    Hey Mao,

    Yeah, it wasn't so bad within our own lifetimes:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6muj4bVr2Uw

    https://www.google.com/search?q=saudi+king+visits+iran&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjY14GTrYTUAhVrjVQKHeBfB4MQ_AUICygC&biw=1344&bih=774#tbm=isch&q=saudi+king+visits+shah+iran

    There is a Sunni-Shiah conflict that extremists on both sides want to keep going and the cool-headed scholars want to stamp out:
    http://ammanmessage.com/

    Persia was, for the majority of her Muslim history, probably considered the champion of Sunni Islam. Imam al-Juwayni (ra) - the teacher of Imam Ghazali (ra) being one of the most famous Persians that taught in the two Holy cities such that he was subsequently always referred to Imam al-Haramayn. The Safavids turned that around, but their beef was with the Ottomans or Mughals as temporal rivals, not the Gulf Arabs. The most recent upswing in hostility started with the ascent of the Salafi-Wahhabis, though even they weren't too keen on fighting with Persia (as can be seen by the video). It was after the Revolution in 1979 that things started progressively getting worst with the US-Saudi-Israeli alliance trying to undermine Iran again and again.

    I think if we would get out of that region, the various peoples would be forced to just deal with each other instead of thinking good old Uncle Sam is going to back them up in a fight (or do their fighting for them). Our presence/influence there is toxic.

    Peace.

    It was after the Revolution in 1979 that things started progressively getting worst with the US-Saudi-Israeli alliance trying to undermine Iran again and again.

    Why, exactly, like I said: geopolitics. Once Iran achieved independence in 1979 and stopped being American client state – boom! all this ‘sunni vs shia/arabs vs persians’ bullshit suddenly jumps out of the woodwork. War propaganda, or ‘information war’, as they call it now. It’s all that is.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Talha
    And don't forget - the Shah's first wife (Princess Fawzia) was from the royal house of the Sunni dynasty (descended from the Albanian Pasha, Muhammad Ali) in Egypt.

    Again...geopolitics.

    Peace.
  37. @richard young
    I agree that Trump may have made matters worse, but to be honest my (US) Government has consistently supported the Sunni side(s) and opposed the Shia side for the past several decades -- despite the objective fact that there has really never been a significant Shia terrorist group anywhere on the planet, unlike the Sunnis' Al Qaeda, ISIS and several other Sunni terrorist groups. But hey, when did "objective facts" matter to my Government? And so it goes.

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

    Read More
  38. The Sunni side, particularly the Wahabbis, have been the best allies and worst enemies we could have hoped for in the region … they hide behind our shield, we hide behind their skirts, and we forgive little things like 9/11 as long as they promise to back us in our war on the big, bad Soviet empire ….. oh, wait, that doesn’t exist any more … ok, sell us cheap oil (if you over look the cost of maintaining our friends in a position to keep the oil flowing).

    There is a Shia place of worship not so far away from where I live in Europe; the people are not creepy like those at the Saudi sponsored mosque the next town over. My haircutter is an Iranian woman … very friendly, and hasn’t slit my throat yet. One of my best friends in school in the US was Iranian, stuck there after the Shah fell. He was always bemused about how he became “evil” by association after that. I’ve pretty much liked every Iranian and Shia I have met.

    I cannot say the same of the Sunnis I was asked to equip and train in the cause of “freedom” in the 70′s and 80′s, and the ones I see in the UK and Europe from the 90′s onward are even less endearing. Aside from a few hundred billion of weapon sales and artificially cheap oil (add back the cost of policing the ME), what do we get by calling these folks our friends?

    Read More
  39. @Mao Cheng Ji

    It was after the Revolution in 1979 that things started progressively getting worst with the US-Saudi-Israeli alliance trying to undermine Iran again and again.
     
    Why, exactly, like I said: geopolitics. Once Iran achieved independence in 1979 and stopped being American client state - boom! all this 'sunni vs shia/arabs vs persians' bullshit suddenly jumps out of the woodwork. War propaganda, or 'information war', as they call it now. It's all that is.

    And don’t forget – the Shah’s first wife (Princess Fawzia) was from the royal house of the Sunni dynasty (descended from the Albanian Pasha, Muhammad Ali) in Egypt.

    Again…geopolitics.

    Peace.

    Read More
  40. Trump is turning out to be Vile Scum.

    Everything he said during the campaign now rings so hollow.

    It’s the Same Old Song.

    Read More
  41. The title of the article is very misleading.
    This is not a Shiite vs Suni war.
    Trump sided with Wahhabis and Salafi thugs that were created, funded, organized, armed and trained by Mossad, CIA and their cronies.
    The conflict that is raging in the area is Zionism / Imperialism / Neo Colonialism using their Wahhabi stooges against those they consider as enemies (anyone who does not follow the empires dictat).
    They hide their bloody hands by spinning a narrative that this is a Sunni vs Shiite civil war and this also provides them with cover and deniability. The press and the paid analysts basically run with the talking points provided by the White House and CIA and …. and provide further false and misleading analysis to further confuse the issue and hide the real culprits.

    Read More
  42. […]  May 21, 2017 Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias President Trump called on 55 Muslim leaders assembled in Riyadh to drive out terrorism from their countries. He identified Iran as a despotic state and came near to calling for regime change, though Iran held a presidential election generally regarded as fair only two days previously. Almost all of the 55 Muslim rulers and leaders in the vast hall in Riyadh will have breathed a little easier on hearing Mr Trump’s repeated call “to drive out terrorism”, since they have always described anybody who opposes their authority as “terrorists”. He denounced Hezbollah and lined up the US squarely on the side of the Sunni against the Shia in the sectarian proxy war that is tearing apart the Middle East.*** […]

    Read More
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