For the last 1,500 years, excluding the five crusades, most other major conflicts in the Middle East can be conveniently attributed to the infighting between the two major blocks of Muslims – the Shia and the Sunni.
After the death of Prophet Muhammad (SM), the vast land under the control of Muslims starting from India/Iran in the east to Morocco in the West, have been divided into essentially four major blocks of which one was Shia and the other three were Sunni dominated.
Because of their century-old seemingly irreconcilable differences, the fighting between the Shia-Sunni blocks has been one of the most fierce infighting between any two religious sects of any religion.
Every military conflict in the Middle East at the end of the day is either a direct result of, or is aided and abetted by, the infighting between the Shia and Sunni blocks.
The Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and the recent Syrian civil war, both supremely brutal and globally significant, are two recent examples of mindless bloodletting among the Shias and Sunnis. The ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen is also another by-product of the same ruthless conflict between the two sects.
Israel and the USA get conveniently blamed for almost everything that ails the Middle East. America’s numerous recent wars in the greater Middle East, some of which were fair and just while the rest were clearly anything-but, gave such blame on America’s shoulders permanency. Israel’s occupation of Palestine and America’s relentless support towards Israel’s position as America’s only democratic ally in the Middle East certainly didn’t help to reduce the burden of blame on America’s shoulders regarding everything that brought the Middle East to its current ruin. However, one must not forget that the nation-state of Israel is only 70 years old, and the United States entered the messy theaters of the Middle Eastern conflict zone only in the 1970’s. Compare these time references to the fact that fierce conflicts, rivalry, and mayhem between the Shia and Sunnis go back some 1,500 years, perpetuating the Middle Eastern chaos present to this date.
In fact, every military conflict in the Middle East at the end of the day is either a direct result of or is aided and abetted by the millennia-old infighting between the Shias and the Sunnis.
Another unsavory fact that the Muslim world conveniently ignores is that the Palestinians under the Israeli occupation are, relatively speaking, much better treated by the Israeli occupation currently, than the treatment received by the Shia Yemenis who are under a siege by the Saudis at the moment or the Sunni Syrians who were bombarded for years by the Iran backed Bashar Al Assad during the Syrian civil war.
Focus your attention on the current situation ensuing from the abrupt US declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and everything that this unsavory declaration is about to unleash. It is abundantly clear that, no matter how much chaos the sudden declaration causes, the Sunni countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and Jordan will be more interested in continuing their fight against the Shia Iran and its regional proxies including Lebanon and Syria, rather than presenting a collective front defending the cause of the stateless Palestinians.
Another unsavory fact that the Muslim world conveniently ignores is that the Palestinians under the Israeli occupation are, relatively speaking, much better treated by the Israeli occupation currently, than the treatment received by the Shia Yemenis who are under a siege by the Saudis at the moment or the Sunni Syrians who were bombarded for years by the Iran backed Bashar Al Assad during the Syrian civil war. To put matters into perspective, there are 27 million Yemenis who are starving to death right at the moment owing to brutal tactics employed by Saudi Arabia. There are about 12 million Sunnis who faced Bashar Al Assad’s brutality in Syria, and there are 5 million Palestinians under the Israeli occupation. Every oppressed person obviously counts, but there is certainly an obvious difference of magnitude in the Yemeni, Syrian and Palestinian example above.
Selective outrage never brings any positive result. Both the people and the rulers of the Middle East have remained conveniently selective in their outrages for way too long, as they always focused on the outsiders for all of their misery without ever spending adequate time in retrospection and reflection. The sad case of the Palestinians is just another glaring failure produced by such selective Middle Eastern outrage resulting in the lack of coherent strategy necessary for meaningful peace in the Arab-Israeli conflicts.
Shafquat Rabbee is a columnist for The GeoStrategists. His write-ups on geopolitics, transnational security, and political economy are carried by various newspapers, blogs, and social media outlets. Shafquat is an alumn of Cornell University and University of Miami.