‘Legacies of Islamic Ecumenicism:
Taqrib, Shi’a-Sunni Relations, and Globalized Politics in the Middle East’
Weatherhead Center, 2021
M. Sagha, ed.
The novel coronavirus is advancing across the Middle East, straining frail public health services and exacerbating preexisting political and sectarian tensions, both within states and between regional rivals.
The spectre of sectarianism haunts the Middle East. It is blamed for chaos, conflict, and extremism. It defines what is seen as the region’s principal fault line: Sunni versus Shiite. It has the power and elegance of a grand theory that seemingly explains all.
The eruption of Bahrain’s political crisis seven-and-a-half years ago marked a watershed in Manama-Washington relations. It also transformed how both Bahrain’s regime and its Shia-dominated opposition viewed the United States. For decades, Bahrain’s leadership has seen the United States as the archipelago kingdom’s offshore security guarantor and a bastion against political ambitions from regional powers.
In this interview for the FRONTLINE documentary “Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia,” Middle East scholar Vali Nasr talks about the history driving today’s wars in the Middle East, whether these conflicts can be solved, and the parallels between ISIS and the nightwalkers from “Game of Thrones.”
The February 2018 PBS documentary ‘Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia’, for which this interview was conducted, can be accessed here.
Donald Trump sets off on Friday to create the fantasy of an Arab Nato. There will be dictators aplenty to greet him in Riyadh, corrupt autocrats and thugs and torturers and head choppers. There will be at least one zombie president – the comatose, undead Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria who neither speaks nor, apparently, hears any more – and, of course, one totally insane president, Donald Trump.