Sectarianism is the common denominator in most of the civil wars or bloody conflicts in theÂ Middle East; whether it is the Christian-Druze conflict of 1860, the Kurdish Simko Shikak Revolt of 1915 in Persia, or the latest civil war inÂ SyriaÂ between a minority Alawite and a majorityÂ Sunni. All these conflicts and many others are based on religiosity.
Prophet MohammadÂ must have been the Messenger of an angry God because since his death,Â IslamÂ has suffered from divisions, hate, forced conversions, and wars, which culminated in sowing a culture that is unable to accept others who differ, in values and ideologies, from our own. If a historian had to record the recent tragedies of the storming of the US Embassies in the Arab world, he could have attached any date to those tragedies starting with 12 Rabi’ al-Awal HijriÂ year 11 (Death ofÂ Prophet MohammadÂ in 632 CE) untilÂ SeptemberÂ 11, 2012 and they would have reflected logic and reason for many ignorant Muslims living these events.
Ever since Khomeini ascended to power in 1979 during the Carter era, Iran has been concentrating on spreading itsÂ Wilayet al-FaqihÂ theory in the region in an attempt to re-establish another Persian Empire. It is managing this expansion by invading other lands (Syria, Lebanon, UAE), by eradicating any pro-western countries (Israel, rule of al-Saud in Saudi Arabia, and the other GCC countries), by using terror (Hezbollah), and by practicing deception against the west Iran calls diplomatic dialogue. This is the work of the Mullahs of Iran and organizations like the IRGC and al-Quds Brigade, not the people of Iran who are looking to unshackle themselves from their oppressive regime of terror.
With Iran clearly controlling Syria today, it is opening a Pandora’s Box leading many who understand the underlying factors behind this war to believe this civil war will be the mother of all wars.
Some facts are in order here to appreciate the over-arching reasons for the title of this Blog.
In 680 CE, afterÂ Hussein ibn AliÂ refused an oath of allegiance toÂ Yazid ibn MuawiyahÂ (Yazid al”™Awal or Yazid I) as the second Caliph inÂ Islam, the rift between Muslims who believed the Caliph should beÂ Ali ibn Az-Zubair, son-in-law to the Prophet (Shia) or to those who believed that Islam must be inherited by the best man able to govern (Sunni) as proposed by IjmaÂ (Consensus) became deadly.Â Yazid al”™AwalÂ (Son ofÂ Muawiyah,Â founder of theÂ Omayyad Dynasty) killedÂ Hussein (Grandson of the Prophet)Â in the battle ofÂ KarbalaÂ inÂ KarbalaÂ modern day Iraq. Â Hussein‘s head was delivered toÂ Yazid al”™AwalÂ who resided in Damascus butÂ Hussein‘s body remained inÂ Karbala.
As a result of the battle of Karbala, the city became a symbol of the struggle of the Shia to gain access to rule all Muslims and a sacred religious destination for all Shia pilgrims, while Damascus where Yazid al”™AwalÂ resided and where his father’s Sunni Caliphate made its capital became the symbol of the Sunni rule in Islam.
Thus, the beginning of the violent divide between both faiths in Islam happened with Sunnis making Damascus their capital and the Shia makingÂ KarbalaÂ in Iraq the symbol of their religious aspirations and sufferings. Because of Damascus historic importance, the Alawites ruling over the ancient city and oppressing the majority Sunnis is being viewed today from a larger prism than an average analyst sees especially thatÂ KarbalaÂ now has been returned to its rightful owners and is no longer controlled by the minority Sunnis of Iraq. The occupation of Damascus by the minority Alawites had less of an impact during Hafez al-Assad era because Hafez maintained a balance and was never viewed as a lackey for the Iranians even though he supported the Iranian regime in every foreign policy initiative, including fighting side-by-side with the Americans during Desert Storm to oust Saddam Hussein, a Sunni who oppressed the majority Shia in Iraq.
But the era of Assad Jr. has been one that showcased its close alliance with Iran and used that alliance to oppress further the Sunni majority of Syria. It’s no longer an open secret; it’s an open wound for many of the extremist Sunnis. To understand how extremists on one side think, it’s important to read and understand how the other extremists on the other side think as well.
Today’s Syrian civil war is multi-dimensional. For many Sunnis of Syria, it has become lately about freeing Damascus from the grip of the Shia of Iran and their proxies Assad and Hezbollah as much as it is about freedom for many non-religious Syrians. For the Arab Sunnis in the region, it’s about the new supremacy of the Shia over Syria, Lebanon, and the disputed Abu Musa UAE Islands. To the Shia, it’s about rights, respect, and freedom because of the Sunni-minority ruled Bahrain and the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. For the west, it’s about clipping the wings of a terrorist country spreading havoc from Afghanistan to South America, engaging in a nuclear poker game, and threatening oil supplies and their routes.
From every angle we look upon the events unfolding, all indications are that the Syrian civil war will be the mother of all battles because theÂ beneficiaries from a defeat of the Iranian regimeÂ are not only local and regional players but also world powers. Russia is more anti-Islamist than any secular society because of its communist roots, therefore Russian support for Iran and Assad is more based on spoiling the plans of the west than encouraging Islamic terror Russia suffers from as well; however, Putin is quick to use al-Qaeda in his arguments to protect Assad whenever possible as he did when he visited Israel.
The Syrian civil war is a war between Sunnis and Shia, between Iran and Saudi Arabia, between Iran and the west, and between Putin and the west. Obama is pretending to be stopping it by continuing to dialogue with the Iranians. Never mind that all the other players are already ignoring him and everyone is feeding Syria with weapons to let the Sunnis and the Shia extremists sort this one out by killing each other.
As an American-Syrian, my concerns remain concentrated on loss of civilian life and who will pay to rebuild Syria when Iran is defeated? None of which are answered.