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The Conflict in the Middle East Is Not Between Sunnis and Shias and Doesn't ‘Date Back Millennia’

Distribution of Sunni and Shia Islam in the Middle East and North Africa. Photo by Peaceworld111 on Wikipedia, used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Distribution of Sunni and Shia Islam in the Middle East and North Africa. Photo by Peaceworld111 on Wikipedia, used under CC BY-SA 4.0

In his last State of the Union address US President Barack Obama stated that conflicts in the Middle East “date back millennia.” One Arab researcher takes time to explain to him that one aspect of the conflict — today's so-called Sunni-Shia rift is anything but ancient.

“The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia,” Obama said.

In a series of tweets, entitled About the so-called “ancient” Sunni-Shia rift, Palestinian writer, career entrepreneur, and Arab Spring activist Iyad El-Baghdadi delves into history picking examples of times when the sect of scholars and politicians did not matter:

El-Baghdadi further explains the “divide and conquer” rift is political in nature and a “willful and cynical sectarianization of a regional power struggle.” He tweets:

According to El-Baghdadi, tyrants are the only beneficiaries of this split and that sectarianism has been “weaponised for power”:

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