Thursday, July 27, 2006

There is ample evidence that sectarian loyalties are hardening, thanks in large part to Iraq. Mai Yamani looks at the phenomenon in regional terms.

The Daily Star - Opinion Articles - Is Israel now the lesser enemy between some Muslims?: "s the Sunni-Shiite divide in the Middle East now deeper than the antagonism between Israel and the Arabs? You might think so given the response of some Arab governments to Hizbullah's decision to attack Israel. Even as Israeli bombs fell on Beirut and Tyre, Saudi Arabia, perhaps the most conservative Arab Muslim state of all, openly condemned the actions of the Hizbullah in instigating conflict with Israel. Never before in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict has a state that considers itself a leader of the Arab Muslim peoples come down on Israel's side so openly.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia's breach with Hizbullah is not a one-time occurrence. Egypt and Jordan have also roundly condemned Hizbullah and its leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, for their adventurism.

What is behind this stunning development? Are we seeing a fundamental shift in relations between Arab nationalism and Islamic sectarianism? Is Saudi Arabia's Sunni government more concerned and frightened by Shiite Islam than it is committed to Arab unity and the Palestinian cause?"

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