February 18, 2007

Intra-Muslim Conflict

One of the most important, but also least-understood, underpinnings of the turmoil that seems to be a permanent part of life in the Middle East is the tension between Sunni and Shi'a Islam. Below are a few articles that may be helpful in getting a grasp on some of the foundational issues.

First is a piece on the origins of the rift between Sunnis and Shi'a, as well as differences in the practices of the two versions of the Muslim faith:

Next, from, of all places, Fox News and Ralph Peters of RealClearPolitics.com, comes a clear and relevant analysis (aside from a snide remark about Natalie Maines) of the current state of intra-Muslim conflict and the various historical and religious forces underlying it:
For a more in-depth look at and what it may mean for the current situation in the Persian Gulf and the surrounding region, this is a worthwhile examination of the distribution of Sunnis and Shi'a populations:
Finally, for a more (fittingly) encyclopedic look at both Shi'a and Sunni versions of Islam, be sure to follow the links in the first paragraph, which go to full listings at Wikipedia.

Emjoy - I hope you find these helpful!


After posting the above, I came across a truly riveting documentary from Deborah Davies at Britain's independent Channel 4.

Death squads run rampant in Iraq's main cities, and in Baghdad, as many as 100 bodies a day are dumped on the streets. There are frequently signs of torture on the dead, but the killers have little to do with the either al-Qaeda or Sunni insurgents; they're Shi'a death squads. Davies investigates the links between these roving, organized murderers and high-ranking Shi'a politicians, and exposes how the militias these politicians control have systematically infiltrated and taken over entire police units and government ministeries.

It's a full television documentary program and clocks in at over 45 minutes, but it's well worth your time.

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