Most Americans believe that a Muslim is a Muslim is a Muslim, but that’s far from the truth. Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims are nearly as different as Catholic and Protestant Christians are, and just like Catholics and Protestants, the Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims have warred against each other for centuries. In fact, a great deal of the violence, wars and political struggles in the Middle East can be tied to the conflict between the two sects.
Sunnis makes up about 90% of all Muslims and can be found in every Muslim controlled country and many non-Muslim ones as well. Shi’ites account for about 10% of the total Muslim world population. They predominately live in Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
In Saudi Arabia, Shi’ites account for nearly 17% of the total Muslim population, most of which reside in the Eastern Province. However, for years, the Sunni controlled Saudi monarchy has made policies that favor Sunni Muslims and not Shi’ite Muslims. Shi’ites are prohibited from practicing their religious rituals in public and they are also forbidden to hold any higher government positions. In many areas of Saudi Arabia, Shi’ites are not allowed to work in any government occupation such as police, army and security services. Thousands are jailed yearly for speaking out against the monarchy. There are no cemeteries in Saudi Arabia for Shi’ite Muslims and the government has even banned the use of some Shi’ite specific names.
The friction between the two sects has been building like that between two shifting continental plates, and sooner or later, all of that friction energy is going to be released. When that happens, the subsequent earthquake could be strong enough to affect the rest of the world.
Adding to the internal friction in Saudi Arabia, is that a number of Saudi officials believe that a Shi’ite insurgency in the Eastern Province is about to erupt and that Iran is fueling it because of the Saudi support of the Syrian rebels who want to overthrow the regime of Bashir al-Assad. One of the main concerns the Saudi government has over an insurgency lies with the fact that 90% of Saudi oil is located in the Eastern Province.
The tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran has existed for centuries, but there is growing evidence that Iran is helping to fuel the growing unrest among the Saudi Shi’ites. Since Saudi Arabia is a power leader in the Middles East and OPEC, an internal civil war would play right into the hands of Iran. It could also be a sufficient catalyst to ignite a series of conflicts between Sunni and Shi’ites throughout the entire region. This would cause a destabilization that could affect oil supplies worldwide which in turn would only add to the economic uncertainty and chaos that many nations including our own are teetering upon.
Once economies start to collapse, it will have a domino effect and could very easily take most of the world’s countries down with it. A worldwide economic meltdown would be catastrophic to everyone, resulting in food shortages, looting, anarchy and violence on the scale that has never been seen before.
Whether you pay much attention to the Middle East or not, what happens there does not stay there. It will come our way and it will hurt!