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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/3/13

Sunni, Shiite Sectarian Bloodletting, No End in Sight

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The sectarian civil war in Syria is escalating ferociously as thousands of Shiite and Sunni Muslims beyond Syria's borders have joined the fray.

Little more than a week ago Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanon Shiite leader of Hezbollah openly declared his military support of the Bashar Assad government in Syria. Assad is an Alawite, a Shiite sect.

Meanwhile Lebanese Sunni Muslims have joined the predominately Sunni rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad regime. The majority Sunni resistance initially against Assad, were indigenous Syrian's, but other Sunni Muslims, particularly the Al Nasra Front allied with al Qaeda, have become the most prominent Sunni militia fighting against Assad.

In neighboring Iraq the sectarian bloodletting of Shiite on Sunni and Sunni on Shiite has brought that country close to a renewed sectarian civil war.

Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister, Nauri al Maliki has permitted Iranian arms to travel across Iraq in support of the Assad regime while Iraqi Sunni's support the rebels with some joining in and fighting with the Syrian resistance.

Iraq's minority Sunni population has been further marginalized by the Maliki government's security forces that recently attacked and killed over 40 Sunni protesters near Kirkuk that has sparked Sunni retaliation in the form of bombings, attacking Shiite mosques and other Shiite gatherings.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have supplied billions in arms and cash in support of the Syrian resistance while Turkey has also supported the rebels. The Russians, a chief backer of Assad, have supplied advanced missile systems in support of the Assad government.

To complicate matters further, Senator John McCain secretly met with Syrian rebel leaders a week ago and continues to prod the Obama administration to use the American military to support the Syrian rebels to overthrow Assad.

Up to now Obama has resisted the pressure to get into another war in another Muslim country, a wise choice considering our inept and failed occupation of Iraq. Of course that debacle was initiated early by disbanding the 400,000 mostly Sunni Iraqi army and firing all civil servants that were members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party (a requirement under Saddam) thus instantly creating the Sunni insurgency against the Americans and a couple of years later the sectarian civil war against the majority Shiite's and the Shiite dominated government the Americans helped to create.

The utter American ineptness in Iraq that helped to create the sectarian civil war in 2006-07 isn't directly connected to the present sectarian civil war in Syria but if the Americans don't invade Iraq in 2003, most probably there would not have been the sectarian civil war pitting Sunni's and Shiites against each other ever since while worsening in both Iraq and Syria and now into Lebanon.

Meanwhile there are the million displaced Syrian refugees, some 500,000 in neighboring Jordan and untold thousands in refugee camps in Turkey and Lebanon.

On Friday to again complicate matters further an Influential Egyptian Sunni cleric based in Qatar, one Sheik Yusef al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa or religious decree calling on Muslims around the world to support the Syrian rebels, calling Hezbollah and Shiite Iran (who support the Assad regime), "enemies of Islam, more infidel than Jews and Christians".

What seems clear from here, the brutal sectarian conflicts in Syria and Iraq between Sunni's and Shiites has helped to enflame the religious passions of their fellow Muslims beyond the borders of these two countries.    

At this point it's hard to imagine the sectarian bloodletting abating anytime soon.

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