Is Israel Now the Lesser Enemy for Some Muslims?

[Daily Star-Lebanon] Mai Yamani - Is the Sunni-Shiite divide in the Middle East now deeper than the antagonism between Israel and the Arabs? Arab denunciations of Hizballah suggest that the Muslim sectarian divide, already evident in the daily violence in Iraq, is deepening and intensifying across the Middle East. The region's Sunni Arabs perceive Israel and the West as being only one threat, the other comprising the so-called "Shiite crescent" - the arc of land extending from Lebanon to Iran through Syria and Iraq that is inhabited by the allegedly heretical Shiites. As the Shiite arc rises in the east of the Arab Muslim world, the U.S. is attempting to strengthen its protection of the Sunni arc - Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia - in the region's west. Israel, the once implacable enemy of the Arab cause, now seems to be slotted into this defensive structure. But such a defensive posture is bound to be unstable, as ordinary Arab citizens see Hizballah as a heroic model of resistance.

2006-07-27 01:00:00

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