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The New Sectarianism: The Arab Uprisings and the Shi’a-Sunni Divide

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More than three years after the Arab uprisings began, it is clear that tensions between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims will be one of the most important outcomes of the revolts. The Stimson Center is convening a series of conversations in 2015 to examine the role of state and non-state actors in driving this conflict.

The uprisings have fueled an inward perspective across the region – an intensification of personal identity, with religion, gender, and ethnicity playing a far more prominent role in determining social and political interaction than in the past.  As a result, the Shia-Sunni divide may well be on its way to displacing the broader conflict between Muslims and the West and the narrow conflict between the Palestinians and Israel as the primary challenge facing Islamic societies in the Middle East. More importantly, it could alter borders within Arab states that have been in place since the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Sectarianism Analysis

Falling Dominos: Bahrain’s Sectarian Turmoil December 31, 2014
Geneive Abdo & Lulwa Rizkallah

Beware the Siren Song of ISIS November 13, 2014
Geneive Abdo & Lulwa Rizkallah

Arming Syrian rebels: Deja vu all over again September 25, 2014
Geneive Abdo & Rachel Stohl

Lebanese Salafis amidst Syria’s war November 22, 2013
Geneive Abdo

Why Sunni-Shia conflict is worsening June 7, 2013
Geneive Abdo

Sectarianism Events

The Escalating Shi’a-Sunni Conflict: Assessing the Role of ISIS – December 15, 2014

The Escalating Shi’a-Sunni Conflict: Assessing the Role of State Actors – October 28, 2014

The Escalating Shi’a-Sunni Conflict: Is It About Religion or Politics? – September 16, 2014

Sectarianism Multimedia

Video: “The Sunni-Shia Divide,” 2014, Council of Foreign Relations


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