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Changing Nature of Shi'i Politics in the Contemporary Middle East - (Hardcover)
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While it is true that the relationship between the two main sects of Islam has been tense for generations, it is only recently that this relationship has become confrontational, at times displaying worrying signs of deep hostility. Inter-confessional tensions have been on the rise thanks to the dynamic nature of politics in Muslim states in the second half of the 20th century. Various events have all contributed to an already-complex, inter-communal relationship: the dramatic transformation of Shia Iran into an Islamic Republic in 1979, the Afghan Jihad, the civil war in the Lebanon, and, more recently, the transformation of a majority Shia Iraq into Iran's close spiritual and political ally in the early 21st century. Together, forces - such as revolution, civil war, internal strife, and regime change - have provided the catalysts for the transformation of Shia communities regionally and internationally into political communities, thus energizing the Shia into direct political action. Tension between the two communities has intensified even further during the Arab Spring and the geopolitical fallout from widespread Arab uprisings, often placing the Shia and their allies at the vortex of regional developments - as in the Bahraini uprising, revolutionary change in Yemen, and the violent Syrian revolution. As Sunni Islamists also gain power in several Arab countries for the first time, this book reminds us that Sunni-Shia relations have been marked by cooperation as well as conflict. It provides a dispassionate study and account of Shia politics in modern times, arguing that Shia politics matter now more to the Middle East region - and the Muslim world more widely - than at any time since the demise of the Ottoman empire. The Changing Nature of Shia Politics in the Contemporary Middle East reflects the nature and intensity of debates about Sunni-Shia relations in the region. The book looks at the different political changes in the region and their impact on the dynamics of Shia politics in the contemporary Middle East, ending with a chapter devoted to the future role of Shia in the political process during these extraordinary times.