Political Violence and Sectarianism in Pakistan

September 02, 2016

Pakistan’s focus on external enemies complicates efforts to reduce political violence, ease inter-communal strains and facilitate the easing of tensions with neighboring countries. In August, Pakistan’s military commanders gathered to assess the impact of the massive bombing in Quetta that...

It Takes a Historian to Understand the Middle East, Doesn’t It?



It’s Not a Sunni-Shiite Conflict, Dummy

January 30, 2015

Atiaf Zaid Alwazir outlines ten reasons why the conflict in Yemen is not sectarian. Last week in Yemen, my young cousin in the second grade ran inside after an explosion shook the windows. “I don’t mind when the house shakes, I just don’t want to die in it,” he said out of breath. “You...

Baghdad: Life in the Pitiless City

October 17, 2014

Daily life in Baghdad reveals a remarkable resilience and steadfastness of the Iraqi people. Baghdad is a city of drastic extremes. A place of violence, corruption, fanaticism, but also dexterity, tenacity, and warmth. Like most in Iraq, the people of Baghdad have suffered. Of this, there can be...

Crisis in the Central African Republic

August 06, 2014

The sectarian and humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic continues to deepen.  Background The Central African Republic (CAR), a Christian-majority country with a minority Muslim population, has been marred by violence since early 2013. What started as a coup d'état against a...

Daring to Try: The US and Sectarianism in the Middle East (Part 2/2)

July 14, 2014

Through public and private diplomacy, the US can help deescalate Sunni-Shia tensions. The Sunni-Shia split is threatening to swallow the Middle East. Although this divide is centuries-old and has been aggravated by decades of missed opportunities and spilled blood, the...

The Iraq Crisis Explained

July 10, 2014

The antigovernment rebellion in Iraq has tapped into longstanding Sunni grievances against the Maliki government. Background Iraq is facing its biggest security crisis in recent history. Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), in alliance with Iraqi Sunni insurgents, have...

Creating an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

July 09, 2014

The sectarian nature of the struggle in Iraq may simply be the most convenient, available expression for social conflict. The Sunni uprising in eastern Syria that is now merging with Iraq’s incipient civil war is becoming a Salafi-led insurgency, which is encompassing both countries under the...

Daring to Try: The US and Sectarianism in the Middle East (Part 1/2)

July 06, 2014

Through public and private diplomacy, the US can help deescalate Sunni-Shia tensions. Like many presidents nearing the midpoint of their second term before him, Barack Obama is now thinking of his legacy. In the first months of 2014, the US president seemed to have some momentum in several...

Bush and Obama: Ignorance and Errors Compound Middle East Problems

July 06, 2014

Bush and Obama failed to comprehend the nature and depth of sectarianism in Iraq. The Iraq crisis has catapulted American right- and left-wing critics into a high dudgeon over which president may be responsible for that nation’s tragic state. In fact, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama may...

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