The division between Muslims about who would take over the leadership of the faithful occurred during the seventh century, around 1400 years ago, and their differences sparked a civil war (Goldscheider n.pag). The people of Saudi Arabia (Sunni) have despised and been at war with the people of Iran (Shea) since that time (Goldscheider, n.pag). At present, however, the division between Sunni and Shea has its roots not only in religion but also in politics (Goldscheider, n.pag). Iran and Saudi Arabia’s recent political rivalry has caused them to fight along the Sunni-Shea lines, and they use sectarianism as a tool to make their religious division much more pronounced and violent (Levinson 37). Sunni-Shea sectarianism is therefore primarily a political issue rather than an ethical issue (Levinson 37). Saudi’s monarchy is very insecure of its weak hold on power, which is illegal but religion legalizes it (Levinson 37). It, therefore, considers Iran’s mere existence as a threat to its legitimacy (Levinson 37). Iran is a threat to Saudi Arabia because of the popularity of its theocratic uprising that was major ‘anti-monarchist’(Levinson 37). Both countries have in the past tried to fill vacuums left by the upended governments in the Middle East by the Arab spring, which in most cases has led to stimulation of violence.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the Zionist wished to build their national home in Palestine but the Arabs opposed them very bitterly, and the two different sides began fighting for one land resulting in the Arab-Israel conflict (Treverton and Cordesman 29). In 1967, Israel possessed the West Bank from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt and this further complicated the already existing war. Since 1967, the two territories have been in constant territorial dispute (Treverton and Cordesman 29). According to Arabs, they are in a continuous fight with the Israelites because Israel expands aggressively (Treverton and Cordesman 29). However, Israelites maintain that the cause of the conflict they have with the Arabs is Arabs continued rejection of their existence as a sovereign state in the Middle East (Treverton and Cordesman 29). Arabs seek to have the Israel state nullified whereas Israel acts only to defend itself. Israel wishes to end the war with Arab as shown by it has withdrawal from Sinai, Lebanon and Gaza (Treverton and Cordesman 29). Despite the peace talks and negotiations between the two territories, the war between them will never end as long as Arab does not publicly declare Israel to be its legitimate neighbor (Treverton and Cordesman 29). In fact, the Palestine leadership is more concerned with destroying Israel than it is concerned with the development of its citizens.
The Arab-Israel and the Sunni-Shea conflicts happen to have various similarities between them such as; first; both wars have lasted for a very long time without a lasting solution; in fact, most people assume that both wars may continue for a lifetime (Treverton and Cordesman 29). Second, both Wars originate from politics and leadership conflicts. Like the Arab-Israel war, which is political because of the fights over land territories, the Sunni-Shea war is also political because it undertook sectarianism lines (Treverton and Cordesman 29). Third, both the Arab-Israel and the Sunni-Shea conflicts involve the Middle East countries. Fourth, there are no clear reasons or roots for the wars (Treverton and Cordesman 29). For instance, there is a claim that the Sunni-Shea war in mainly due to religious conflicts, however evidence shows that the battle is due to Sectarianism hence the reason for the war is not very clear (Treverton and Cordesman 29). The same applies to the Arab-Israel war, its origins are territorial conflicts, and however, most people believe that the battle is mainly due to Arab denying the sovereignty of Israel as a nation (Levinson 37).
Despite the similarities that exist between the Arab-Israel conflict and the Sunni-Shea conflict, the two conflicts are very different from each other in many ways. Some of the differences between the two types of conflicts are; first, initially, the Saudi Arabians and the people of Iran intermarried and were good friends whereas the Arabs have always despised the Israelites and have never been friends with them (Levinson 37). Second, Arab is superior and more potent as compared to Israel and when at war, Israel always concedes to avoid further conflict (Levinson 37), unlike Saudi Arabia and Iran that have almost equal power and it is not very clear which among them is more powerful (Treverton and Cordesman 29). Third, The Sunni-Shea conflict is because of religious differences whereas the Arab-Israel war is because of differences in territories (Levinson 37). Fourth, the countries involved in the Sunni-Shea war are both of the same religion (Treverton and Cordesman 29), Muslim, whereas the countries involved in the Arab-Israel war are of different religions, Israel is a Christian nation while Arab is a Muslim nation (Levinson 37).
Americans blame Israel for Palestine’s hostility, but their charge is counterproductive because instead of solving the existing conflict, it worsens it (Goldscheider, n pag). There is evidence that shows that a concession from Israel without Palestine conceding is time wastage (Goldscheider, n page). To allow peace to reign given the Palestine’s mentality, Israel sees the ‘negative strategy’ option as the only solution to the eternal conflict with Arabs (Goldscheider, n.pag). Insecurity and fear tears apart united people along any conveniently available line. Therefore, the followers of the Shiites and Sunnis should not allow their leaders to threaten them with ‘spread hatred and Sectarian violence’ (Goldscheider, n.pag). Instead, the different leaders’ followers should allow their universal religion to reunify them so that they together they can stand against their selfish leaders and overpower them.
Goldscheider, Calvin. Cultures in Conflict: The Arab-Israeli Conflict. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. Greenwood Press Cultures in Conflict Series.
Levinson, Adam Valen. “The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War (Revised Edition).” Middle East Journal, vol. 62, no. 4, Sept. 2008, p. 737.
Treverton, G. and A. Cordesman. “The New Cold War Iran Versus Saudi Arabia.” Prospect -London- Prospect Publishing Limited-, no. 215, 2014, pp. 22-31.