Is there a Widening Sunni-Shia Schism?

An upswing in sectarian violence in Pakistan, Bahrain and elsewhere in recent months highlights the historic tensions, and contemporary political importance of schisms between Sunni and Shia communities across the Muslim world. Why is the level of violence rising and what regional and internal factors are influencing it? What are the implications for these countries should the relationship between the two sects continue to deteriorate? What role does the U.S. or other external actors play in shaping these developments and what could they do to alleviate tensions?

On February 22, the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at Brookings hosted a discussion to explore the factors behind this apparently worsening conflict between Sunni and Shia communities. Panelists included Brookings Senior Fellow Bruce Riedel, director of the Brookings Intelligence Project, and Geneive Abdo, fellow at the Middle East program at the Stimson Center and author of a forthcoming Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings paper examining sectarianism in the context of the Arab Awakening. Durriya Badani, deputy director of the Project, offered welcoming remarks. Brookings Senior Fellow Suzanne Maloney moderated the discussion. 
After the program, the panelists took audience questions.

Welcoming Remarks
Durriya Badani
Deputy Director, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World
The Brookings Institution

Suzanne Maloney
Senior Fellow
The Brookings Institution

Geneive Abdo
Fellow, Middle East Program
Stimson Center

Bruce Riedel
Senior Fellow and Director, Intelligence Project
The Brookings Institution



Middle East
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