The Sunni-Shia Conflict by Nathan Gonzalez
Understanding Sectarian Violence in the Middle East

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Synopsis

From the ancient struggles between Zoroastrian Iran and Christian Rome, to those between Sunni and Shia empires in the Muslim era, geopolitical contests in the Middle East have always been framed in overtly religious terms.

While most Sunni and Shia Muslims around the world seek religious coexistence, vacuums of power, such as those that occurred during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) and in post-war Iraq, have forced believers to retreat into their respective ethnic, sectarian, tribal and political camps. It is exactly during times of crisis that regional leaders can exploit sectarian identities and force civil strife upon an entire country. Today, with the rise of a pro-Iranian government in Iraq, the Middle East finds itself once again in the midst of a regional power struggle: one between Iranian-allied Shias and the Sunni-Arab governments that oppose them. It is only by understanding the political dynamics of sectarian conflict that the United States and the international community will have a chance to help Iraq achieve a lasting peace.

Moving beyond tired descriptions of the Middle East as an exotic land of ideological purists, Nathan Gonzalez provides a realist account of the history of the Sunni-Shia conflict--a schism of political interests that now threatens to escalate into a regional war.

 

About Nathan Gonzalez

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Nathan Gonzalez is a Fellow with the Truman National Security Project and author of Engaging Iran: The Rise of a Middle East Powerhouse and America's Strategic Choice. In 2002, he received the Dean's Prize for Undergraduate Research from the University of California-Los Angeles for his research on Iraq, through which he predicted that a U.S. invasion would bring about massive sectarian violence and a stronger Iran. He holds a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University in New York.
 
Published December 1, 2009 by Nortia Press. 200 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, War. Non-fiction
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