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The Political Understanding of the Sunni-Shia Conflict

  • Muslim-Christian Encounter
  • Abbr : MCE
  • 2019, 12(1), pp.67-118
  • DOI : 10.30532/mce.2019.12.1.67
  • Publisher : Torch Trinity Center for Islamic Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Christian Theology > Mission Theology
  • Received : February 21, 2019
  • Accepted : March 29, 2019
  • Published : March 31, 2019

Seo, Dong Chan 1

1독립연구자

ABSTRACT

The Sunni-Shia conflict can be defined a modern phenomenon in the history of Islam. History is an interpreted fact, so an interpretation of the past is based on projecting the present into the history. The Sunni-Shia conflict is causing especially fatal consequences now in Syria and Yemen, leading to numerous deaths and refugees. Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two leading leaders of Sunni-Shia, are driving Syria and Yemen into the flames of their proxy war. Thus, in other words, sectarian conflict is more destructive in the context of political conflict than in religious contexts. Islam was mainly Sunni from the beginning, and Shia was not as strong as it was to be an axis of conflict. Although the political forces that tried to overthrow the Sunni Muslim dynasties used Shi'ite ideology for the successful founding of the new Muslim kingdoms such as Fatimid Caliphate (909–1171 CE),Buyid dynasty (934–1062 CE),Safavid dynasty (1501–1736 CE),the emergence of these dynasties should be seen as a politically interpreted and activated sectarian movement rather than as the result of the Shi'a sectarian movement. This study works for the analysis of the Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict. Saudi Arabia achieved national formation by combining the fundamentalist Sunni Islam of Wahhabism with the political power of the Saudi royal family. In contrast, the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran led by Khomeini emerged as the result of an anti-Western and anti-systematic movement, with Shia Islam at the forefront as a national ideology. In the 1970s, Saudi Arabia was able to become a regional power by securing huge oil money by weaponizing oil, and by spreading Wahhabism around the world, it hopes to expand the country's geopolitical interests to the entire Muslim world. Iran in the 1970s was in a state of backwardness due to the decadence of Western imperialism, the depraved monarchy and neighboring countries that had fallen into the claws of Western interests. To break this reality, Iran's Khomeini sought to revolutionize corrupt and unjust secular civilization in accordance with the spirit of Shia Islam and to succeed in the permanent revolution of Islam For Iran at that time, Iraq's Shi'a people, Syria's Assad Shia ruling forces and Lebanon's Shi'ite minority groups were noted for their ease of forming alliances, and Saudi Arabia accepted this kind of Shi'ite movement as a threat and challenge. Thus, the Sunni-Shia sectarian conflicts spread beyond individual countries to regional scale, and began to take on the character of proxy warfare. The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq resulted in the removal of Iraq's Shi'ites from a Sunni crackdown, resulting in the expansion of Iran's regional influence. In addition, with the spread of the Islamic international movement, quasi-state armed networks such as al-Qaida have transcended the country and built it into a global new cold war following the U.S. Cold War. The 2008 U.S. financial crisis has shaken the balance between world politics and power. Anti-authoritarian democratic movements that had been suppressed have erupted into the Arab Spring, and in areas where sectarian tribal power relations are complex, such as Syria and Yemen, have erupted into civil war of mass destruction. At the center of sectarian conflict and conflict was Iran-Saudi Arabia's proxy war, and outside the stage of such sectarian conflict, the competition for hegemony was waged by big powers like the United States-Russia-China.Thus small countries such as Yemen and Syria, which have sectarian contradictions, have fallen into the modern history of tragedy. This study analyzes the mechanism of these sectarian conflicts, namely Iran and Saudi Arabia's proxy warfare, and based on the case of Syria as a criterion of comparison, sought the way of possible solutions for the sectarian conflict in Yemen. In the end, the simplest, easiest, and most basic solution for establishing a peace regime is the construction of a democratic state. Syria and Yemen should rebuild normal states in accordance with democratic procedures.Although it implies sectarian differences, it should create a democratic order in which differences are recognized maturely by respect for trust and diversity, not by discrimination or oppression. This is the only way to prevent outside hegemonic forces from driving sectarian differences in individual countries into a fractious conflict in the form of divide-and-rule. It will be a way for neighboring powers not to use sectarian differences and not to intervene in proxy warfare, destroying the nation.

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