A new sectarian threat in the Middle East?

31 December 2007 Joost Hiltermann

A Shiite resurgence in Iraq has generated a region-wide Sunni backlash. After discussing the schism's origins, manifestations and implications, the author concludes that the primary battle in the region is between the United States and Iran. The most effective long-term response to sectarianism itself, however, will likely come from systemic restraints that exist in the form of countervailing loyalties that prevent any single allegiance, such as religious adherence, from becoming paramount.

About the author

Joost Hiltermann
Deputy programme director

Deputy programme director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group.