The Sunni-Shia Power Struggle

Religion and Politics

The Topic I will discuss is the origins of the political battles between the Shia and the Sunni. I will talk about why this split is significant. The author of the news article I looked at is by Mike Shuster and makes a good point in saying that the “Shia predominate where there is oil in Iran, in Iraq and in the oil-rich areas of eastern Saudi Arabia as well”. This is significant to point out because the Western nations (mainly the USA) would be interested in controlling the oil. So when an encounter occurs between the Shia and Sunni the USA would want to be involved to get closer and gain access to that oil.

Up until recently the Sunni and Shiite communities had been somewhat peaceful for many years after their battles from earlier in their history. The original conflict between the two groups began due to a disagreement over leadership when Prophet Muhammad passed away in the year 632. The Shia people wanted leadership to stay within the family and for it to go to Ali. Ali was the cousin and son in law to Muhammad.

From the history of that time period we see that a lot of groups chose political leaders based on family ties to the previous leader. However it is not difficult to see why the Sunni people wanted to pick a leader that best represented the elite in the community. I think that looking back at it and from a Western perspective it would be better to go with a leader that best represented the community. However during the time period of this conflict and due to the different views in various parts of the world it could have been better to go in another direction.

Ever since this original struggle for political power both groups have had tensions between them. This tension has created unrest within the Middle East and it is boiling over lately. Both the Sunni and Shia people are seeking political power within the oil rich areas that the USA is so interested in. This can become problematic due to those in the Middle East not having any interest in Western superpowers interfering and getting involved in their political struggles for control.



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