Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Review: ‘Defending the Faith’ in the Middle East

By David Motadel
An anonymous painting of Turkish Emperor Mahmud II leading his troops.
THE last several months have brought a dramatic escalation in conflict across the Middle East, almost all of it involving tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims — which are in turn fueled by a power struggle between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia for regional supremacy. And yet, as new and disturbing as these developments may appear, the linkage of sectarian and secular interests is a return to the classic geopolitics of religion in the Middle East. Solving these problems will not be easy. Religious protectorates have proven remarkably persistent; yet they have also proven too dangerous to ignore. [link]