Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The United States' Relationship with Sunni and Shia Countries in the Middle East

Sunni and Shia Countries in the Middle East
I came across a fascinating chart which laid out the United States' relationship with each country - i.e. whether a country is perceived by the Americans as friend or foe - cross referenced with whether majority population of each country was Sunni or Shia.  It is a little bit hard to read, so I apologize for that, but the reader should (I hope) still be able to make out the wording on the chart.

It could be argued that the US considers every country in the Middle East that has a Sunni regime to be a "friend," while it considers Iran, the major Shia country in the region, to be a "foe," along with the Alawite Shia regime regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.  Is there a particular reason for this?  Frankly speaking, I doubt that the US has some particular affinity or affection for the Sunni branch of Islan as opposed to the Shia branch; rather, I believe the US' position towards each country is largely driven by other interests and concerns.

It just so happens that the Sunni monarchy states of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) of Saudia Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar possess some of the largest oil reserves in the world.  If one considers Iraq, one can see that the US' continued close friendship with that nation is completely unaffected by the fact that under Iraq's nascent democracy the government has clearly emerged as Shia dominated.  Now, I do not want to overstate the idea that oil drives everything.  Indeed, it is clear that both promotion of democracy as well as the US' friendship with Israel also drive America's policies in the Mideast; however, I am arguing that the US' relationship with Sunni or Shia dominated regimes is simply an affect of the US' policies in the region rather than a cause.

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