Friday, January 3, 2014

The Political Face of Sectarian Hatred in the Middle East

Yesterday's bombing in Beirut illustrates the primordial influence of sectarian hatred in shaping Middle Eastern politics dynamics. As I noted on Monday, the Lebanese Hizballah is struggling to contain the wave of Sunni extremist violence that's directed against it. Regarding this sectarian anger, it's clear that there have been two separate counter-responses to Nasrallah's intervention in Syria. On one side, the March 14 bloc is trying to weaken Hizballah's political influence at the governing level. Supported by the Saudis in the form of new aid to the Lebanese Army, Siniora and Hariri are pushing for Hizballah's separation from any new cabinet. Conversely, motivated by their fanatical ideology, Salafi extremist groups are also seeking to weaken Hizballah. However, for these groups, the chosen mechanism of political activity is significant violence. What's clear is that sectarianism is now front and center in Lebanese politics (Martin Chulov gives a good reporting primer on Hizballah's role in this evolving dynamic).

But it isn't just Lebanon. If interested, here are some of my thoughts on the challenge of sectarianism in terms of...
  • Iraq (with latest news on Anbar here)
  • Lebanon (in relation to the Syrian Civil War)
  • Somalia (in terms of internal tensions within terrorist groups) 
  • How it leads people into terrorism/helps sustain terrorist groups

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