This is from http://hughhewitt.townhall.com
Posted by Dean Barnett
1) Who are the Sunnis and the Shiites?
They are the two main sects of Islam. And generally speaking, they’re not crazy about each other.
2) What are the differences between them?
Historically, they suffered their fissure 13 centuries ago when they differed over who the rightful heir to Muhammad was. Beyond that little nugget, the typical congressman shouldn’t have to worry his pretty little blow-dried head about the origins of the two sects.
The Sunnis historically were much more political than the Shiites. Devout and fundamentalist Sunnis felt (and feel) that there can be no law above the Koran. That means they feel that government by necessity must be a theocracy. Also, fundamentalist Sunnis consider Shiites to be apostates. An apostate is an even worse thing to be than an infidel.
Shiites traditionally were relatively non-political. You’ve seen this kind of Shiite philosophy in action in Iraq where Ayatollah Sistani supported the formation of a secular government and declined to claim the reins of leadership himself.
3) So who’s Sunnis and who’s Shiite?
The Shiite majority countries are Iran and Iraq . The Sunni majority countries are everyone else.
4) But wait. I thought you said Shiites were more open to secular governments than Sunnis. Then how do you explain Iran? Is Iran not a theocracy?
The ascension of the Khomenist Shiites in the late 1970’s marked a sea-change for the Shiite world. The Khomenists brought theocratic dictates to the Shiite realm. Before that and even after that, Shiites would have secular leaders like Yasser Arafat who in spite of his many flaws was at least not a religious nut. But with the Khomenists’ star continuing to rise, the Shiites are becoming every bit as radicalized as the most radical Sunnis.
5) Can Sunnis and Shiites get along?
While of course tolerant people of any faith can get along, rigid fundamentalist Sunnis and Shiites don’t get along. Like I said, the radical Sunnis like the Wahabists and those in Al Qaeda consider the Shiites to be apostates. The Khomenists think much the same about their Sunni brethren.
6) Why’s that?
Because they practice slightly different faiths. The Shiites like Ahmadenijad wait for the 12th Imam. The Sunnis like bin Laden consider this apostasy. And vice versa.
7) But wait. You said Syria is a Sunni country. And yet they seem pretty snug with Iran. What gives?
The controlling Baath party in Syria is part of the Shiite Alawi sect. Even though the Alawis make up only 10% or so of the population, they are in firm control. So Assad cooperating with Iran is a Shiite/Shiite partnership.
8) How come the Sunni majority tolerates Assad’s leadership?
It’s a dictatorship, dummy. Dictatorships get “tolerated” until they’re not anymore. But since Hafez Assad seized power in 1970, he and his chinless ophthalmologist son have had a solid grip on things. When the so-called war on terror started, Syria was considered a low-hanging fruit because of the country’s massive Sunni majority and Bashir Assad’s weak nature. But the fruit has gotten a lot higher over the past several months with Israel’s failed war against Hezbollah and Iran’s increasing brazenness in supporting its Syrian puppets.
9) What really worries me is that Iran will get a nuclear bomb and then give it to Al Qaeda. Am I wrong to have such a concern?
Right church, wrong pew. So to speak. Iran and Al Qaeda will never work together. Ever. Iran is run by fundamentalist Shiites. Al Qaeda is composed of the world’s most radical Sunnis. They hate each other even more than they hate us. Iran would never give Al Qaeda a weapon of mass destruction because if they did, it would be every bit as likely to detonate in Tehran as in Manhattan.
But Iran has its own terror group that is more lethal, better funded and better organized than Al Qaeda. Iran runs Hezbollah. If Iran wanted to give a weapon of mass destruction to a terrorist group, it wouldn’t need to outsource the project. Its own in-house terrorist brand is a lot more efficient at what it does than the cave-dwelling losers who comprise Al Qaeda.
10) That’s sobering. I guess we should be fighting Iran and Hezbollah. After all, we did declare a global war on terrorism and together they represent the globe’s most dangerous terrorist threat.
Yes, we should. And the fact that we aren’t tells you all you need to know about the Global War on Terror. At this point, it’s a pile of hooey. After we got to Al Qaeda and made them pay for 9/11, our country lost interest.
11) So, the big question: Can the Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis live peacefully alongside each other?
It depends on how fundamentalist and radicalized each sect in Iraq is. We know each sect has its elements that are bent on violence. The question is whether these elements are fringe groups or the mainstream. If they’re fringe groups, they can be destroyed and peace could break out. If they’re the mainstream, there’s no hope.
12) So what if they’re the mainstream? Then what?
Then the country has to be broken up, with the Sunnis getting a piece and the Shiites getting a piece and the Kurds holding onto their piece.
13) That’s disappointing. It doesn’t quite match the original vision of an Islamic Jeffersonian democracy that swirled about our heads three years ago, does it?
Radical Shiites and radical Sunnis have as much interest in living in a Jeffersonian Democracy as the typical American has living under Sharia. The quicker we come to peace with that fact, the better.
14) Now that I know all this stuff about Shiites and Sunnis, I’m not sure it was such a good idea to invade Iraq. Gosh, I probably should have read some books between 2001 and 2003. Anyway, are we better off having invaded Iraq? Did I do the right thing supporting the war?
Relax. You did the right thing in supporting the war. We cannot afford the existence of states that will support and sponsor terrorism, especially terrorism aimed at us. That’s why Saddam had to go. And that’s why the lunatics in Tehran have to go. And it’s why Assad has to go as well.
15) But why can’t we just leave the region and end this national nightmare? Besides, I’m a Republican Senator up for reelection in ’08!
While we might want to disengage from the problems, our problems have no interest in disengaging from us. Believe it or not, Senator, there are more pressing national concerns than your reelection. If Iran and Hezbollah are allowed to continue on their current course, we will long for the good old days when the worst that the bad guys could do to us was fly a few airliners into buildings. Trust me on that.
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