The Middle East is undergoing yet another cycle of escalating violence feeding on each other and as a result of tit for tat between various alliances based on religious, political, sectarian and tribal differences.
Unprecedented atrocities are being committed against both combatants as well as civilians, human rights are being abused with exponential growth in hatred and feuds that is fragmenting the Ummah with potentially global effects.
In the aftermath of the second gulf war and invasion of Iraq, first it was the indiscriminate bombings allegedly by Al-Qaida specially targeting Mosques and shrines belonging to the Shia community. This resulted in the Maliki government of Iraq increasingly isolated into its Shia cocoon with the rise of Shia militia, firstly to defend against Al-Qaida, but later safeguarding Shia interests against those of Sunni’s in Iraq and in the process committing human rights abuses.
Taking inspiration from the phenomenon of the Arab spring the Syrians rose against their Baathist dictator initially in peaceful mass protests. But after the heavy handed suppression of the protests and the atrocities committed by the Syrian police and military, it turned into an armed conflict.
The Syrian Baathist regime in effect has not been any way different than the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussain. But this is where Iran has consistently shown double standards, being against the latter, but supporting the former. The excuse given for Iranian support to Syria was that it was a front line state against Israel.
Soon the opposition against the Syrian regime was hijacked on one side by Western powers led by US promoting its own interests and on the other hand by the absolute monarchies led by Saudi Arabia who want to prolong their absolute power and riches over their people for as long as possible.
Instead of using wisdom to safeguard the interests of the Ummah as a whole, following the policy “ my enemy’s enemy is my friend”, Iran and Hizbullah openly supported the Syrian dictator, thus giving the impression of a Sunni against Shia proxy war in Syria.
Hizbullah, the only fighting force amongst Arabs that has gained some success to the Israeli fighting machine, was now fighting against the Syrian opposition. Thus while both enemies of Israel were happily eliminating each other, Israel has been proactively assassinating the Hizbullah leadership at its will whenever the opportunity arose.
The easy flow of money and arms from the gulf countries and advance weaponry and training from the West has worked like fuel on fire, leading to the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq & Levant (Levant means Shaam or greater Syria), ISIL.
ISIL with its hatred of Shias inherited by Al-Qaida, further fuelled by atrocities committed by the Syrian regime as well as abuses committed by Shia militias in Iraq, used the trinity of opportunistic slogans of Islamic State, Caliphate and Sharia to attract a large number of naive young people to passionately fight for Islam under its banner. However after committing unprecedented level of atrocities and cruelty, they have been finally exposed as harbinger of murder and mayhem in the Middle East.
There are significant number of Shias living in Gulf countries ,which are absolute monarchies, who have been marginalized as a minority community over a long period of time. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has been careful not to champion the cause of Shia minority and portray itself as a sectarian regime and jeopardise its relationship with the global Ummah.
After the establishment of the Iraqi government dominated by Shias and with the advent of the Arab Spring, the Shia community in the Gulf countries has been flexing its muscles and demanding its rights and share in governance. This movement has been brutally suppressed specially in Bahrain and to some extent in Saudi Arabia.
With the wedge between Shia and Sunni being drawn in the theatres of war in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, this divide has now reached Yemen. The blanket bombing by Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia as saviours of Sunnis against exaggerated threat of Shia taking over has the potential of open warfare between Iran and other Muslim countries with suffering of common Muslims in the Middle East and dire affects on the unity of the global Ummah.
The main beneficiary of this escalation are the Israelis relaxing in their bunkers and the Arab dictators feeling more comfortable in their palaces while the Muslim masses suffer from pain, hunger, illiteracy and dis-empowerment to bring about any change to their miserable condition.