Nine days ago
the influential Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi denounced the Lebanese Shia
Hezbollah movement – whose fighters helped Bashar al-Assad’s regime retake the
Syrian city of Qusair last week – as the “party of Satan.”
Geneive Abdo, a
fellow at the Stimson Centre thinktank and author of The New Secterianism, however, admits to being “fairly
pessimistic” about the current trajectory of Sunni-Shia tensions, arguing
that it comes amid a wider “intensification” of sectarian identity
across the Middle East that cannot be explained easily with reference to
social, economic or political context.
mustn’t forget that some of the new sectarianism began with Iraq [following the
invasion]. The fall of the authoritarian regimes during the Arab spring,”
she adds, “coincided with an increased interest in identity politics of
all kinds, including sectarian identity.”
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