Apr 14, 2012

New (old) Sectarian Blocs: Neo Ottomans vs. Neo Safavids

On Syria, most of the Shi'ite Muslims are supporting Bashar Al-Assad because he is Allawi (an offshoot of Shi'ite sect). Similarly, Sunnis are supporting Bahrain's one-family rule monarchy, because the ruling King is Sunni. 

Abdulla Hawez

In the wake of the 'Arab Spring' especially Syrian uprising, we're seeing very interesting bedfellows emerge, the new regional alliances are apparently resetting based on historical sectarian division. Both Turkey and Iran, the regional heavyweights and heirs to imperial pasts, their current Islamist governments are set upping the regional formulas based on Sunni-Shi'a division, seemingly, as the situation in Syria getting more violent the further division between the two blocs becomes more evident. The regional division gives signals that re-emerge of the classical regional alliance underway in a new style, as the Arab Spring becomes more religious.
As the classical Safavids and Ottomans empires, the new regional alliances are as the following: Turkey which is biggest regional Sunni power is allying with the Sunni Arabian Peninsula countries leading by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In addition, the Sunni oppositions in the region like Arab Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq and Sunni-led opposition in Lebanon, as well as the Sunni-backed opposition in Syria which likely after the topple of Bashar Al-Assad will take over the power. Meanwhile, Iran's regional power consists of Assad's regime in Syria and the fragile government in Lebanon which lead by Hizbolla, as well as the Shi'ite ruling bloc in Iraq, Shi'ite opposition in Bahrain and Turkey's Kurdish rebel organization, PKK.
Similar to the cold war between United States and Soviet Union, expectedly we will witness economic and political war between those two blocs. Even, the military conflict is possible, while the Syrian revolution becomes more violent. Turkey and Saudi Arabia already threatened to intervene in Syria if Kofi Anan's peace plan failed and the main agenda for Turkish Prime Minister's visit to Saudi Arabia is the possible scenarios against Syria. Iran and its regional allies, in the other hand, possibly won't only become watchers.