Russia, the West, and the Sunni-Shiite trap
By Gordon M. Hahn
During the Cold War Washington and Moscow constructed the barricades that made for what Alexander Solzhenitsyn called “a world split apart.”
Today, there are still many issues on which the U.S. and the West stand on opposite sides of the barricade from Russia. Now, however, the twilight socialist-capitalist ideological struggle is absent. The only ideological aspect to new divergence (and competition of interests) is external to the immediate Russia-West relationship––and is “religious” not economic.
Specifically, it consists of the Islamist theo-ideology and the growing polarization between Sunnis and Shiites across the Muslim world. While the U.S. and the West tend to come down on the side of the Sunnis, Moscow tends to side with Shiite Iran, its allies in Syria, and the Shiite opposition in Bahrain. This trap is complicating efforts to coordinate Western and Russian policy on the revolutionary situation in the Muslim world in addition to the related global jihadi revolutionary alliance.
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