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The Demonization of Iran and Shi’a Ratchets Up

  • Friday, June 9, 2017

The Demonization of Iran and Shi’a Ratchets Up 

 

The demonization of Iran commenced in force after the signing of the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the P5+1 (U.S., United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany) which prevents Iran from engaging in weaponizing nuclear bombs. Two years after the signing of the agreement U.S., Sunni Arab Gulf countries and Israel’s demonization of Iran continues.

U.S. policy towards Iran and now toward Shi’a Muslims in general ratcheted up another notch after President Trump’s late May visit to Saudi Arabia.

 

The current crisis between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia with Qatar, which had been brewing for some time, then broke out in full force on June 5. It seems that Trump’s visit provided the green light for the Saudis and the UAE to stage a diplomatic crisis to bring the recalcitrant Qataris back into the Saudi-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council.

 

Oddly, despite the U.S.’s strong backing for the Sunni Gulf Arabs in their mutual fight against terrorism and Iran, however belated, it seem to have caught Washington off guard in spite of the bromance exhibited during Trump’s visit. If the Saudis and UAE’s gambit does not pay off as handsomely as they anticipate, one wonders if the U.S.’ tacit alliance with the 41-Muslim nation Saudi-led Sunni alliance against challenging Iran and other Shi’a countries will be able to be effectively sustained.

 

If it cannot be sustained, then more problems will arise between the U.S. and the Saudi-led Sunni alliance.

 

At first glance, the U.S. current policy of currying favor with the wealthy Sunni Gulf Arabs for geo-political, economic and military

reasons seems an astute strategic move despite traditional American values opposing monarchy, autocratism, authoritarianism, dictatorship, intolerance, prejudice and unhumanitarian practices.

 

It probably seems political wise, especially for a country in political crisis, to support Gulf Arab countries as they are part of the 1.6 billion Muslim community (Ummah), whereas Shi’a number around 300,000 million.

 

Of course numbers do count. Especially when the Sunni Ummah includes some of the most wealthy countries, if not the most productive, especially when they harbor substantial sources of oil, natural gas , minerals and rare earth resources.

 

But are Sunni Arabs, and Americans, in spite of their current wealth, on the right side of history? It must be remembered that almost all radical international terrorism emanates from within the Sunni Ummah.

 

The failure of monarchial, authoritarian, dictatorial, militarist Sunni regimes in the 20th and 21st century provides evidence of the poverty of Sunnism when it is used by such regimes to enhance political power.

 

One only has to glance at the 20th and 21st centuries of the Sunni Arab Middle East for certitude. It was the Sunni Ottoman Empire and Sunni regimes that lost the Middle East to British, French and Russia Empires. It was the Sunni Turkish state that abandoned Alexandretta (Hatay) province to France in 1939; it was Sunni Arabs that lost part of Palestine and Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest city, to Jews in 1948. In Syria in 1963, Sunnis lost power to the Shi’a affiliated Alawites; still in power after 44 years.

 

Sunnis had been in power in Syria from 661-750 AD during which they establish the first Islamic Empire with Damascus as its capital. With the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, and with U.S. support, Shi’a came to power in Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Empire from750-1258. Thus, by the first decade of the 21st century, the historical central cities of the Sunni Arab world—Jerusalem, Damascus, Baghdad (and also Beirut)—came to be dominated and be ruled by Jews and Shi’a.

 

The lackluster historical legacy of Sunni Arab regimes in the past century and a half has not well served Shi’a Arabs, Sunni Arabs or Muslim peoples. It is this humiliation that drives Arab anger.

 

The current crises in Arab Muslim countries, and among their ruling and economic elite, invites challenges.

 

The further demonization of Iran and Shi’a will expedite these challenges.

 

Robert Olson

Middle East Analyst

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