SOUTH KURDISTAN (IRAQ)MESOPOTAMIA NEWS BACKGROUNDER : America backs Sunnies in the Shia-Sunni conflict of interest in the Middle East

Posted on May 21, 2019  Abdul-Qahar Mustafa | Exclusive to

Different type of conflicts have been going on in the Middle East for centuries. Millions of people have died, and trillions of dollars have been wasted, and hundred millions of people are still suffering as a result of these wars and conflicts. The main conflicts are over control, domination, regional hegemony, natural resources, oil, water, land, struggle for self-determination, clash of ideologies and ethnic and religious clashes. However, division of society on sectarian lines has undoubtedly added the most fuel to the fire to an already volatile situation.

A considerable number of ethnic and religious minorities face a wide range of discrimination in different countries in the Middle East for many years. And of course, the basis for this mistreatment can be found in the wrong political systems, lack rule of law and the undemocratic constitutions that countries have adopted in the region.

One example of religious minority discrimination would be the case of Shia minorities who complain that they are discriminated against and mistreated in countries that are dominated by Sunnis especially in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Although, Sunnis minority have made the same complaint about Shia dominated states like Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Investigations that were carried out in this regard by independent parties like international human right originations; show that the claims of discrimination made by both sides Shia and Sunnis have been proven to be true. In the case of Sunnis being discriminated against by Shia, the Iranian constitution clearly says that each lawful order has to be in agreement with Shia Islamic law because the whole political structure of Iran is based on the Shiite interpretation of the Sharia.

That is why every political activity that promotes other religious beliefs or confessions such as the Zoroastrian, Bahai, Christians, Jews or Sunnis minorities, is regarded as an old and expired religions and a rejection of Shia-Islam and as a result punished as a crime. Judges and attorneys of the revolutionary court of Iran often justify their sentences by claiming that none Shia religious minorities are not loyal to the Shia based political system of Iran, but rather are loyal to Sunnis Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and therefore pose a threat to the national security.

Furthermore, Iran is one of the countries that have a long history and record of human right abuse, both implicitly and explicitly. There are laws that render some communities second class citizens such as Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians while there is some other that completely criminalizes yet some other communities like Bahai.

The Iranian government dictates almost all aspects of people’s lives telling them what to wear and what not to wear and what to eat as Halal food. In fact, in Iran, freedom comes with a lot of conditions and the government forcefully imposes its Shia religious teachings and moral idealism on people down to each individual if necessary. Defiance to such rules and laws can meet with medieval forms of punishments like lashing, beating, imprisonment, stoning or even public executions and in some cases extreme psychological torture methods.

On the other hand, the Sunni states especially the Gulf region are very hostile toward Shia Muslims and since they have adopted a more radical Sunni Islam the term (Rejecters) is given to Shia Muslims to distinguish them from rest of the society. In Saudi Arabia eastern provinces, which the majority of Shia Muslims live, they are considered as second class citizens and they would never be able to assume a mid to high position within municipal, provincial and central governmental agencies. They would never be allowed to join the army, and they would never be allowed to identify themselves openly in a place like Mecca or Medina. Bahrain, which has a Shia majority, is ruled by the minority Sunnis and the past few years the struggle to gain more rights and privileges has been faced with brutality and military involvement against the Shia citizens. Place like Qatar and UAE are very strict with their Shia population, and they have maintained a short leash to fully contain and control them.

In addition, the rest of the secular monarch and Sunnis dominated Islamic world do not view the Shia Muslims in a positive way, and places like Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Malaysia and Indonesia there have been laws and policies to place their Shia populations on short leash and refuse their requests of opening places of worship or conduct rituals and even in these two states the Shia Muslims have been oppressed and stripped out of many of their rights.

Clearly, the problem with human right abuse in these countries, whether it is in a Sunni or Shia majority country, is created by power holders. Usually when the power holders are dictators, they abuse their power and exercise unlimited authority, and beyond the boundaries of law, the outcome is human rights abuse in different forms.

The human right abuse usually happens by people whom have backward, dictatorial mentality. People who have no conscience, people who are arrogant, irresponsible, egocentric, and greedy for power, wealth and fame and name, yet have no sense of humanity, and respect for others. Human rights abuse also happens because of the ideological clashes, rivalry and differences between different sects, and ethnicities where the rule of law is weak as each side tries to impose their own agendas and ideologies and also gain more power over the ones who are different than them, with the aim to gain more wealth, and yet for the fear of being dominated and enslaved by their political opponents.

It is unlikely that the followers of these two branches of Islam, Shia and Sunnis, will abandon their beliefs for one another or will unite. So the only option left is to live together peacefully under a secular democratic constitution where the rights of all are respected regardless of minority or majority. However, instead of making reforms, the leaders of these undemocratic governments in the Middle East choose to worsen the situation of human rights in their countries by starting proxy wars with one another in places like Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

America is taking advantage of this conflict. Instead of helping both sides to make peace and encouraging them to adapt secular democratic constitutions, USA is selling advanced weapons to monarch Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE. It’s also protecting Sunni allies Arab gulf countries from the alleged threat of Iran, with its military presence in the Middle East.

I believe, that the formation and implementation of a secular democratic constitution that would not favor any religion or sect over the other, and the creation of a strong independent judiciary system can be the best single solution to at least minimize the case of human right abuse, if not eliminate them, in both Shia and Sunni dominated countries around the world.

There is no doubt in my mind that moderating the Middle eastern governments and a change in the political system from Shiite theocracy, or Sunni monarchy into a democratic system where all people have equal human rights, would be key solution to the problem of human rights abuse and beneficial not only to the Shia or Sunni people, but also to other ethnic and religious minorities who live in the Middle East and in general for the regional and global stability, peace and security.

Abdul-Qahar Mustafa is a graduate student from Saint Louis high school in Canada. He is advocate of justice, democracy and human rights. He currently lives in Sarsang/Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan. Mustafa is a senior contributing writer for Ekurd.