Seven Steps to Islamic State (IS) Part 2

This post is the second of three which look at thirty five years of conflict in the Middle East, and seven steps that have led to the emergence of ISIS.

The Iranian Revolution in 1979 triggered Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran and the beginning of the eight-year long Iran–Iraq war. It also marked the escalation of the battle within Islam between Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims, as Saudi Arabia began to spend billions of dollars to export its fundamentalist form of Islam across the world.    Continue reading

Advertisements

Seven Steps to Islamic State (IS) Part 1

The rise of Islamic State (IS) and its seizure of large parts of Iraq and Syria have caused alarm in the West and across the Middle East. Harrowing images of mass killings and beheadings of soldiers and journalists have sparked calls for renewed U.S. intervention in the region.  Alarming as it is, Islamic State has not risen in a vacuum. In fact IS can be seen as an outcome of thirty five years of continual warfare across the Middle East. This post, the first of three, looks at those thirty five years of conflict and the seven steps that have led to the emergence of ISIS.    Continue reading

The War Within Islam

The practice of violence changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world’. Hannah Arendt

For decades now sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims has engulfed the Middle East and central Asia. The conflict has spilled over into the West, most notably in the 9/11 attacks, while the ensuing ‘War on Terror’ has further poisoned relations between the West and the Muslim world. Today sectarian violence is spreading to North and East Africa, creating an arc of instability across the African continent. Three decades of brutal Sunni-Shia conflict tragically illustrates the intractable nature of sectarian violence. It also demonstrates how religious fundamentalism can too often give those with dangerous personality disorders an easy path to power.   Continue reading

Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia

The movie Wadjda, by Saudi Arabia’s first female director Haifaa al Mansour, is an entertaining and endearing story of headstrong ten year old Wadjda who can’t make sense of the crippling restrictions that Saudi society imposes on women and girls. By the end of the film we too are left wondering at the childish tyranny of the adults in charge. Continue reading