The Middle East’s big problem: Sectarianism

Sectarian divisions in the Middle East are only getting worse, and there’s little sign that tensions in the region will abate before they explode into war, experts say.


The Soufan Group, a New-York based strategic security firm, said in a note Friday that the “weaponization of sectarianism,” fueled by the divide between Sunni and Shia Muslims, was the “greatest threat facing the Middle East.”


“In a region beset with chronic and widespread problems, ranging from poor governance, war, violent extremism, and resource scarcity, one threat stands above the rest in terms of potential for destruction and cost in opportunity: the use of sectarianism as a geopolitical weapon,” the firm wrote.


It continued: “Sectarianism encourages extremist rhetoric and violence and serves to distract a populations from economic and social concerns by providing a convenient enemy on which to focus. While the Sunni-Shia divide is as old as Islam, current divisions are driven far more by regional rivalries and political gamesmanship than by religion, though the latter remains a primary factor.”


Read More: The Middle East’s big problem: Sectarianism – Business Insider