This is my 8000th post……I really need to get a life beyond the keyboard….LOL
My regular readers understand that I watch the Middle East religiously looking for problems that could blow up into a major problem….especially for the US foreign policy…….this weekend while you were grilling or shopping of just plain goofing of a situation is rising with the conflict now going on in Yemen…….
We have been told by the media that there is an Arab coalition that has taken it upon itself to intervene in the civil unrest in Yemen because of the rise of the Shi’a minority, the Houthi, are on the rise and being very successful. The rest of the governing authorities in the surrounding countries are Sunni and as we have been told that is a mixture of oil and water……
But what is all this hatred and mistrust between the two sects of Islam?
Sunni Muslims regard themselves as the orthodox and traditionalist branch of Islam.
The word Sunni comes from “Ahl al-Sunna”, the people of the tradition. The tradition in this case refers to practices based on precedent or reports of the actions of the Prophet Muhammad and those close to him.
Sunnis venerate all the prophets mentioned in the Koran, but particularly Muhammad as the final prophet. All subsequent Muslim leaders are seen as temporal figures.
In early Islamic history the Shia were a political faction – literally “Shiat Ali” or the party of Ali.
The Shia claimed the right of Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, and his descendants to lead the Islamic community.
Ali was killed as a result of intrigues, violence and civil wars which marred his caliphate. His sons, Hassan and Hussein, were denied what they thought was their legitimate right of accession to caliphate. Hassan is believed to have been poisoned by Muawiyah, the first caliph (leader of Muslims) of the Umayyad dynasty.
His brother, Hussein, was killed on the battlefield along with members of his family, after being invited by supporters to Kufa (the seat of caliphate of Ali) where they promised to swear allegiance to him.
These events gave rise to the Shia concept of martyrdom and the rituals of grieving.
There is a distinctive messianic element to the faith and Shia have a hierarchy of clerics who practice independent and ongoing interpretation of Islamic texts.
There you have a very basic explanation of the differences in the two sects and both want and claim leadership of ALL Muslims. The history is much complicated than this simple explanation…..but it is a basic knowledge of the conflict….
I offer this small example for a good reason……..
Capping off weekend negotiations at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, the Arab League has agreed in principle to create a combined military strike force, which officials saying is aimed squarely at Iran.
The force will be combined from Sunni Arab nations, and the current aim, admittedly preliminary, is for a force of 40,000 troops backed by warplanes to be created within the next four months.
The elephant in the room in all of this is Yemen, as surely the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen would be just the sort of thing this force is designed for, though Saudi officials are still talking up a comparatively quick victory in Yemen, and predicting the war will be over before this force gets off the ground.
Let’s say the Saudis and allies decided to invade Yemen to go after the Houthis…..will Iran, as the major influence of Shi’a, stand by and let an invasion go unanswered? There is already concern with the influence of Iran is having in Syria and Iraq.
Can this situation be settled peacefully or will the whole of the Middle East become a battleground between two warring sects of the same religion?
This could very well be the opening of Pandora’s Box that we were warned of in Greek mythology.