Conflicto Suníes y Chiíes

Iraqi security forces have made great progress toward defeating the Islamic State in Iraq. Whether this military success will translate into enduring stability will depend in large part upon the attitudes of Iraqi Sunnis toward the postwar state. Since 2003, Iraqi Sunnis have viewed the political system as unfair and marginalizing their role in the nation’s politics. A recent public opinion survey we carried out reveals a startling and potentially significant shift in Sunni attitudes toward the Iraqi state.

A nationwide poll of Iraqis carried out by the Almustakilla for Research group in April 2017 found that for the first time since our surveys began in 2003, Sunni Arab public opinion in Iraq is very positive about the political situation in the country, while the Shiite Arab view of politics has grown more negative.…  Seguir leyendo »

El reciente ataque terrorista sunita al corazón político y religioso de Teherán es algo casi sin precedentes, incluso aun cuando en los años 80 el territorio iraní sufría ataques de diferentes bandos. Este asalto terrorista debe considerarse como algo relacionado estrictamente con el aislamiento diplomático hacia Qatar en el marco de la guerra civil en curso en Siria e Irak.

Antes de afrontar escenarios contemporáneos, es importante resaltar los motivos históricos que subyacen bajo la división entre sunitas y chiitas, que se alejan de la acusación recíproca que se hace en la actualidad de herejía y comprensión religiosa.

Tras la muerte del profeta Mahoma en el 632, el principal problema era preservar la unidad de la Umma, la comunidad islámica, entre aquellos que sostenían que la herencia política de Mahoma (la herencia profética religiosa finalizó con la muerte del profeta) debía mantenerse en su clan cerrado y apoyaban la candidatura de Alí (el primo del profeta); y aquellos que argumentaban que el sucesor de Mahoma podía ser cualquier colaborador cercano y amigo en el periodo islámico inicial, no necesariamente un miembro específico de su clan o de su familia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yemen has entered its third year of war, and war crimes are being committed at an escalating rate. For Yemen’s children, facing a man-made famine, this conflict between Houthi rebels and a coalition led by Saudi Arabia has begun a new phase of horrors.

Despite that, President Trump is planning to make Saudi Arabia the destination of his first state visit this week. Meanwhile, his administration already decided to lift all human rights restrictions on arms sales to my country, Bahrain, which is a partner in the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. This reckless pursuit of profit without any strings attached — including a lucrative deal for 19 F-16 fighter jets worth $2.8 billion — will aid and abet the destruction of Yemen, intensifying the country’s humanitarian disaster.…  Seguir leyendo »

On a recent afternoon, I found myself squeezed into the back seat of a car, one of about 50 vehicles in a procession recklessly speeding through the Afghan capital. The passengers — all men, all members of Afghanistan’s Shia Muslim minority — were headed toward the Kart-e-Sakhi shrine, where the previous night a suicide attacker loyal to the Islamic State, the radical Sunni group, had killed more than a dozen Shias.

In the front, three men occupied the passenger seat, limbs splaying out of the open door. The cars raced through the streets, forcing traffic to halt and make way. The black-clad men thumped their chests in religious fervor, shouting “Ya Hossein” in allegiance to the Shias’ third imam and waving flags depicting children in green headbands that said the mourners belonged to the “House of Hussein.” The scene had the marks of a sectarian conflict in the making.…  Seguir leyendo »

Se está produciendo una guerra fría en un lugar muy caliente. Un componente clave de la competencia sectaria entre el Islam shiita y el sunita en Medio Oriente es geopolítico: el enfrentamiento de Irán a Arabia Saudita y sus aliados del Golfo en una lucha por el dominio regional.

Como en la Guerra Fría original entre la Unión Soviética y Estados Unidos, el conflicto no implica una confrontación militar directa entre los rivales principales (al menos todavía). El combate se da en el terreno diplomático, ideológico y económico (sobre todo en el mercado del petróleo) y mediante guerras por intermediarios, como los conflictos en Siria y Yemen.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the Iraqi army backed by the US-led international coalition embarks on an offensive to liberate Fallujah from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), reports are starting to come out about the campaign’s military successes. The leader of ISIS in Fallujah has been reportedly killed by coalition airstrikes, while the town of Karma, north of Falluja city, has been cleared not just from ISIS fighters but also from its residents.

But ‘victory’ against ISIS in Iraq is not a simple case of eradicating the organization militarily. Examining the social and political dimensions of the anti-ISIS offensive reveals that ‘victory’ is likely to be short term as long as the drivers that led to the emergence of ISIS in Iraq in the first place continue to be reproduced.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the Iraqi army backed by the U.S.-led international coalition embarks on an offensive to liberate Falluja from ISIS, reports are starting to come out about the campaign’s military successes. The leader of ISIS in Falluja has been reportedly killed by coalition airstrikes, while the town of Karma, north of Falluja city, has been cleared not just from ISIS fighters but also from its residents.

But “victory” against ISIS in Iraq is not a simple case of eradicating the organization militarily. Examining the social and political dimensions of the anti-ISIS offensive reveals that “victory” is likely to be short-termed as long as the drivers that led to the emergence of ISIS in Iraq in the first place continue to be reproduced.…  Seguir leyendo »

Gran parte del mundo musulmán está sumido en la agitación. En Siria, una guerra brutal ya se ha cobrado 250.000 vidas, desplazado a la mitad de los 21 millones de habitantes del país y enviado a un millón de refugiados a Europa en busca de asilo. En Yemen, la tribu houthi se alzó contra el gobierno y ahora enfrenta ataques aéreos liderados por los sauditas. Conflictos como esos reflejan una cantidad de factores, siendo el más prominente los conflictos entre dos sectas del Islam, los sunitas y los chiitas, y entre fundamentalistas y reformistas.

El régimen alauita del presidente sirio, Bashar al-Assad, cuenta con el respaldo de las potencias chiitas, especialmente Irán, cuya influencia regional depende de que un régimen chiita se mantenga en el poder.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sergey Lavrov walks to a trilateral meeting with the US and Qatar on 3 August 2015 in Doha. Photo by Getty Images.

However Russia decides to react to the ongoing spat between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the consequences for the Kremlin’s goals in the Middle East will be negative.

On the one hand, keeping quiet would affect the dynamics of Russian−Iranian relations that had been on the rise. Moscow invested diplomatic and economic effort in improving the dialogue with Tehran, including the opening of a credit line. It cannot afford to lose these dividends considering Russia’s economic dire straits. The Russian authorities are desperate to retain Iran within its sphere of influence and avoid any drift westwards. Without Iranian ground forces fighting the opponents of the Assad regime, it will be difficult for Moscow to attain its goals in Syria − Russia needs Iran’s military and political support to compel the Syrian opposition and its sponsors to negotiate with Bashar al-Assad.…  Seguir leyendo »

El reciente aumento de las tensiones entre Irán y Arabia Saudí ha vuelto a centrar nuestra atención en la rivalidad de estas dos potencias de Oriente Medio. Su enemistad viene de lejos pero, a diferencia de lo que se señala en muchas ocasiones, no es secular. Durante años mantuvieron, pese a sus diferencias, una relación fluida articulada por intereses comunes. Hoy, tras la ruptura de las relaciones diplomáticas entre ellos, la vuelta a la cooperación se vislumbra lejana y difícil, pero no imposible.

La religión imperante en cada uno de los países no ha sido siempre un elemento de confrontación, aunque sí ha sido esencial para diferenciar sus identidades.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators in Tehran protest against the execution of prominent Saudi Shia cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr on 4 January 4 2016. Photo by Getty Images.

The sectarian lens provides a convenient and easy prism to understand the ongoing Saudi-Iranian standoff. But it produces, at best, an incomplete picture.

Yes, the majority of Saudis are practitioners of Sunni Islam and the majority of Iranians Shias, but deep-seated historical tensions between the two groups is not what is at the heart of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry, nor is it the cause of recent escalations.

At heart, the tensions are about regional competition where both countries are trying to contain the other’s influence throughout the wider Middle East. Conveniently the sectarian narrative suits the interests of elites in Tehran and Riyadh seeking to distract their populations from domestic crises of governance.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators opposed to Saudi Arabia gathered in Tehran on Friday. Credit Abedin Taherkenareh/European Pressphoto Agency

The world will soon celebrate the implementation of the landmark agreement that resolves the unnecessary, albeit dangerous, crisis over Iran’s nuclear program. All parties hoped, and continue to believe, that the resolution of the nuclear issue would enable us to focus on the serious challenge of extremism that is ravaging our region — and the world.

President Rouhani has repeatedly declared that Iran’s top foreign policy priority is friendship with our neighbors, peace and stability in the region and global cooperation, especially in the fight against extremism. In September 2013, a month after taking office, he introduced an initiative called World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE).…  Seguir leyendo »

La ruptura de las relaciones diplomáticas entre Irán y Arabia Saudita es un punto de inflexión peligroso en una región ya inestable y desgarrada por la guerra. El disparador fue la ejecución por parte de Arabia Saudita de Nimr al-Nimr, un jeque chiita agitador que había reclamado el fin de la monarquía en el país. Pero la ruptura tiene sus raíces en una rivalidad estratégica que se extiende por todo Oriente Medio.

Las tensiones entre los dos países se remontan a muchas décadas, pero se volvieron especialmente agudas después de la Revolución Islámica de Irán en 1979. El líder de la revolución, el ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, no ocultaba su desprecio por la familia real saudita; rápidamente posicionó a Irán como un defensor de “los oprimidos” contra “las fuerzas de la arrogancia” -Estados Unidos y sus aliados locales, Arabia Saudita e Israel.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why did Saudi Arabia execute Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr now?

The Saudis have had Nimr in custody since 2012, sentencing him to death in 2014. The cleric has been a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia’s ruling royal family for years, going as far as threatening Shi’ite secession in the minority’s eastern homeland in 2009.

Saturday’s execution of Nimr, alongside 46 others, mostly al Qaeda members, sparked a crisis with Iran. Protesters in Tehran set the Saudi embassy on fire, and the Iranian government threatened “divine revenge” against the kingdom. Riyadh severed diplomatic and commercial ties with Tehran, and Saudi allies Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates filed diplomatic protests.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saudi Arabia’s execution on Jan. 2 of an outspoken Shi’ite cleric who called for the overthrow of the Saudi royal family triggered international condemnation and set off protests throughout the Middle East. Demonstrators stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran and set the building on fire. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ratcheted up the rhetoric, declaring: “God’s hand of retaliation will grip the neck of Saudi leaders.” By Jan. 3, the kingdom cut off diplomatic relations with Iran, a move followed by several Saudi allies.

How did the execution of a cleric escalate so quickly into a diplomatic crisis between two regional rivals that have been fighting a cold war for over a decade?…  Seguir leyendo »

Guerra Fría en el Golfo Pérsico

El año 2016 ha comenzado de forma muy conflictiva en Oriente Medio después de que Arabia Saudí ejecutara a 47 personas acusadas de delitos vinculados con el terrorismo islámico. Entre ellas estaba el clérigo árabe chiita Nimr al-Nimr que fue protagonista de revueltas durante las Primaveras Árabes. Las autoridades saudíes acusaban a Teherán de apoyar a Al-Nimr quien habría estado, según Riad, preparando atentados en su territorio. La respuesta iraní ha sido contundente y la población llegó a asaltar la embajada saudí en Teherán, lo que ha provocado la ruptura de las relaciones diplomáticas.

Históricamente la zona del Golfo ha sido de gran conflictividad.…  Seguir leyendo »

The international political fallout from the execution of a dissident Saudi cleric, Nimr Al Nimr, reflects several years of rising sectarian tensions, driven by geopolitical competition in the Middle East. Beyond today’s war of words between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a deeper, long term worry is that a whole generation of people in the Middle East, where the majority of the population is under 30 years old, is growing up with the assumption that the sectarian divide is the main issue in politics. Five years on from the Arab uprisings, when mass protest movements called for a more democratic, peaceful and just form of politics, democracy remains elusive.…  Seguir leyendo »

The execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia at the weekend has triggered a predictable diplomatic crisis.

Iran immediately condemned the move, the Saudi Embassy in Tehran was attacked by angry demonstrators, and Saudi Arabia then severed diplomatic ties with the country. On Monday, Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates followed suit. Yet despite the war of words, it is important to remember that this crisis is merely a microcosm of a wider geopolitical chess game between Saudi Arabia and Iran. And it might also need some outside help to prevent it escalating further.

Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia must have known that the execution of a senior Shia cleric would exacerbate existing grievances within the region, especially with Shia-dominated Iran.…  Seguir leyendo »

Any hope that 2016 would bring some degree of peace to the Middle East has been shattered by the events of the past few days.

Saudi Arabia’s announcement on Saturday that it had executed 47 people, including the well-known Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, has led to a further deterioration in Saudi-Iranian relations — and a widening of the chasm between Sunni and Shia Muslims throughout the region.

Demonstrations in Tehran over the executions led to the sacking of the Saudi Embassy by some protesters on Saturday, and, 24 hours later, the breaking of diplomatic relations by Saudi Arabia. The Saudi announcement was followed by two other Arab countries, Bahrain and Sudan, likewise breaking diplomatic relations with Iran.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators in Iran on Monday protested the executions in Saudi Arabia. Credit Vahid Salemi/Associated Press

When Saudi Arabia executed the Shiite cleric and political dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday, the country’s leaders were aware that doing so would upset their longtime rivals in Iran. In fact, the royal court in Riyadh was probably counting on it. It got what it wanted. The deterioration of relations has been precipitous: Protesters in Tehran sacked Saudi Arabia’s embassy; in retaliation, Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties. More severe fallout could follow — possibly even war.

Why did Saudi Arabia want this now? Because the kingdom is under pressure: Oil prices, on which the economy depends almost entirely, are plummeting; a thaw in Iranian-American relations threatens to diminish Riyadh’s special place in regional politics; the Saudi military is failing in its war in Yemen.…  Seguir leyendo »