Having been born and lived in the Middle East, I will try to uncover some of the hidden nuances of the region in light of the recent attacks on Lebanon and France. And how the rich Golf Arab governments themselves are driving the wedge between Sunni and Shia using the major state-owned media of al-Arabia and al-Jazeera.
There is a Berlin Wall being built in the Middle East to divide Sunni and Shia by Arab governments. It is not a physical wall but an ethnic one. It’s bricks are made of bigotry – bigotry between Sunnis and Shia.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar are financing this Berlin Wall to protect the Sunni governments of the Middle East region. With everything they say, and do not say, these two governments are laying down more bricks with their news headline bias – increasing the fissure between Arab Sunnis and Shia people.
When Paris was attacked, the Arab Sunni governments rushed to condemn the attack on their state-owned media. For example, al-Arabia news channel published the following two headlines:
“Jubeir: Paris attack is a criminal act and Saudi Arabia condemns it strongly” Adel al-Jubeir is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia. (link)
And … “Al-Azhar: the perpetrators of the attack in Paris are infidels”. Al-Azhar is the Islamic religious establishment in Egypt, which represents the Sunni Muslims. (link)
However, Lebanon was attacked two days before Paris. The attack, perpetrated by ISIS, took place in the southern part of Beirut – a Shia dominated area. I checked the same two websites of al-Arabia and al-Jazeera for the Lebanon attack. Although there were reports of an attack in the southern part of Lebanon, I couldn’t find any headlines by the Saudi government, Al-Azhar of Egypt, or any major Sunni Arab government official condemning the attack.
One might expect the Arab Sunni governments represented by Saudi Arabia, with its religious establishments, to release the same level of condemnation for the killing of Shi’a Muslims (as they did for Sunni Muslims) – but that did not happen!
The minorities of Shia in the golf countries and the majorities of Shia in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon pay attention to these omissions. This absence of condemnation increases the fissure between the Sunni and Shia in the Arab world. It serves to further marginalize the Shia in Iraq, where they are a majority, as well as the Shi’a in Yemen, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Syria and Lebanon -where they are minorities.
One notable exception came from the Shia leader Muqtada al Sadr of Iraq, who condemned the attack on Iraqi Internet media and is calling for unity in Lebanon between ethnic groups there. (link)
Every single day, the Middle East is witnessing the ebb and flow of an epic battle between two major symbols of the Sunni and Shia sects – Saudi Arabia and Iran. The battle is visible clearly on their state-owned media.
This might seem innocuous for the layman who is not involved in the complexity of Middle East politics, but it feeds the division between Sunni and Shia in the Muslim world. These nuances, compounded through state-owned mass media for years, created the current ethnic problems.
I find this recent attack on Lebanon is a germane example of what I witnessed in Iraq. While working with the U.S. Army there, I sometimes found myself engaged in heated debates with people who accused America of igniting the sectarian violence in Iraq. During America’s invasion in 2003, the majority of the Iraqi people, and I am sure the wider Arab world too, blamed America for bringing the sectarian violence into Iraq. I argued strongly against that and debated that the sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia is being driven and fueled by a Sunni government – represented by the Saudi’s, and the only Shia government – represented by Iran.
No doubt the recent events in France and Lebanon, as well as every other terrorist attack that happens, captivates the world and focuses attention further on Arab culture.
That means it is imperative for Washington leadership to recognize and understand these nuances, so that they can then push the Arab governments to stop the sectarian driven news on al-Arabia and al-Jazeera thereby reducing and eventually eliminating, the constant warring in the Middle East.
But the wall of ethnic bigotry should be destroyed by Arab hands; because it was built by their hands. American soldiers MUST not have to die and American taxpayers should NOT have to pay untold trillions of dollars, while America at the same time, shoulders the blame for a conflict that has been ongoing for hundreds of years.