Regional Implications of Shi'a Revival in Iraq
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA DEPT OF NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS
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Since regime change disenfranchised the Sunni minority leadership that had ruled Iraq since the countrys independence in 1932 and empowered the Shia majority, the Shia-Sunni competition for power has emerged as the single greatest determinant of peace and stability in post-Saddam Iraq. Iraqs sectarian pains are all the more complex because reverberations of Shia empowerment will inevitably extend beyond Iraqs borders, involving the broader region from Lebanon to Pakistan. The change in the sectarian balance of power is likely to have a far more immediate and powerful impact on politics in the greater Middle East than any potential example of a moderate and progressive government in Baghdad. The change in the sectarian balance of power will shape public perception of U.S. policies in Iraq as well as the long-standing balance of power between the Shia and Sunnis that sets the foundation of politics from Lebanon to Pakistan. U.S. interests in the greater Middle East are now closely tied to the risks and opportunities that will emanate from the Shia revival in Iraq. The competition for power between the Shia and Sunnis is neither a new development nor one limited to Iraq. In fact, it has shaped alliances and determined how various actors have defined and pursued their interests in the region for the past three decades. Often overlooked in political analyses of greater Middle Eastern politics, this competition is key to grasping how current developments in Iraq will shape this region in years to come. Sectarianism during this time period has also been closely tied to the development of militant Islamist ideology and activism among Sunnis.
- Government and Political Science
- Unconventional Warfare