Friday, November 27, 2015

Ignatius on the Coming Sunni-Shia War


David Ignatius has gone and offered up a solution to worldwide catastrophe I had not foreseen.  I thought the coming Sunni-Shia War was inevitable, and that today’s conflict in the Middle East would escalate to something like WWI or WWII, pulling in Europe and Russia, and of course, the U.S.  I saw the Bush/Cheney overthrow of Saddam as changing the balance of power in the Middle East and it kicked off the “legendary” Sunni-Shia War.  Like the breakdown in the power structure in Europe with the beginnings of WWI, a whole new order may be rising in the Middle East. 

Things now seem to be moving in that direction in the Middle East with the rise of ISIS out of another Sunni group like Al-Qaeda or the Taliban or whatever and the war that was always talked about and noted as legendary had become reality and seems to be the deciding factor in today’s Middle Eastern conflicts.  Whether it is ISIS or Syria or Iraq or Iran or the Kurds, the question is: are they Sunni or are they Shia? 

If you know that (Sunni or Shia?), you know who they are for or against.  Iran is predominately Shia – as is Assad in Syria – so they are supporting him.  Those opposing Syria are mostly Sunni.  The rebels in Yemen are Shia and Iran, which is Shia, is aiding them.  Fighting against the Yemen rebels, the Houthis who are Shia, is Saudi Arabia which is Sunni.  Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the other old monarchies which are Sunni offer moderate support to opposing ISIS because it is Sunni also and currently opposing Shia states, however they do see it as a threat to their current power status given ISIS’s claim for a caliphate state.

And this could all escalate into something much, much bigger.  However, in Ignatius’ column he offered up solutions that had solved similar problems in the past.  Ignatius offered up five times adversaries in a seemly intractable wars were able to sit down and negotiate not only a settlement to their current conflict but also set precedents that shaped history. 

One of those mentioned was the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.  Christians used to do as Muslim do today.  If you were not the right kind of Christian, you either had to change or die.  Coming at the end of the period of the Holy Roman Empire which sort of came after the final fall of Rome, this agreement marked the end of the Middle Ages.  This was followed by what is now called the Modern Era and especially the Renaissance.  I don’t know if resolving the Sunni-Shia conflict could result in a new Renaissance but you never can tell.
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