The overall violence in Syria is increasing. The regime’s thugs, led by Allawites, often kill dozens of protesters and political opponents each day. The Free Syria Army, a force based in Turkey consisting of military defectors, carries out daily attacks. On Monday, the Free Syria Army captured two checkpoints and attacked a third, reportedly killing and captured dozens of regime loyalists. On December 23, two bombings in Damascus took place at headquarters for the security services, killing 44. It is unclear who the perpetrators were.
In Saudi Arabia, the Shiite minority in the oil-rich Eastern Province continues to demand better treatment. The Saudi government just issued arrest warrants for 23 more Shiites, accusing them of working for Iran. In Bahrain, the Shiite-majority population is again challenging the Sunni royal family. On Sunday, hundreds protested at the funeral for a protester who was killed that was only 15 years old. Clashes followed that included the use of rubber bullets and Molotov cocktails.
Senior Muslim Brotherhood theologian, Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, condemns the Bahraini Shiite protesters, saying, “There is no people’s revolution in Bahrain but a sectarian one,” and that it is backed by “foreign powers,” meaning Iran and Hezbollah. In Yemen, Salafists and Iranian-backed Shiite Houthis often battle, with one clash killing 14 last month. In Syria, the Iranians back the regime while the Muslim Brotherhood backs the opposition. A split between the Islamist Sunnis and Islamist Shiites is very identifiable.
The sectarian clashes are catching the attention of the government of Turkey, which backs the Syrian opposition. Turkey seems to blame Iran for it. “Let me openly say that there are some willing to start a regional Cold War,” the Foreign Minister stated. “We are determined to prevent a regional Cold War,” he vowed.
“Sectarian regional tensions would be suicide for the whole region,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.
It’s a frightening time to belong to an ethnic minority in the Middle East, and these tensions could quickly erupt as foreign powers jump in to support their brethren.
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