NOTE:The following article was written by Bahrain Watch member Fahad Desmukh and was originally published on the website of TRT World on May 29, 2017. However TRT World had to remove it the following day after Bahrain’s foreign ministry made a complaint about the article to the Turkish government.
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.
In an upmarket suburb of Senegal’s seaside capital, a branch of Iran’s Al-Mustafa University teaches Senegalese students Shi’ite Muslim theology, among other subjects. The branch director is Iranian and a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hangs on his office wall.
Ecumenical initiatives to promote Sunni-Shi’i reconciliation and
mutual respect have failed to take root because they do not tackle
the incendiary issues that prompt each branch to view the other with
disdain, if not as outright apostates or unbelievers. I argue that this
will not change until the main fault lines in their worldviews, communal
self-understanding, sacred narratives, history, theology, and
philosophy are confronted head-on.
If this cannot be done, then all proclamations of Muslim unity and
brotherhood/sisterhood under one ummah will remain hollow and
lack substance, because each side’s internal discourse would remain
unchanged. Any type of mutual tolerance and coexistence prompted
by expediency and power dynamics cannot be expected to be deeprooted
and long-lasting. The United States, along with such other
local and foreign players as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Iraq, and
Syria, have instrumentalized Sunni-Shi’i sectarianism to promote
their own myopic vested interests. The result is clear for all to see:
an exponential increase in Sunni-Shi’i antagonism.
The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 33:1 (2016), 133-47