Islamic World "On the Precipice of Sectarian Hostilities"

Article Summary
The Islamic world is hurtling toward a Sunni-Shia clash that might even spread to Pakistan and Afghanistan, writes Fatih Altayi. The author warns that as the two opposing axes form, it should not come as a surprise for the Kurds to join the Arab and Turkish front while Azerbaijan joins the camp of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

Our region, from which Turkey had remained distant from in the past, is on the precipice of lethal, far-reaching sectarian hostilities between the Shiites and the Sunnis. The Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, and even Afghanistan and Pakistan are continuing down the path to a long Sunni-Shiite war. Iraq is igniting the conflict for good, as [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al] Maliki’s anti-Sunni policies have laid the grounds for profound tension.

While Kurds get the natural resources in the north, Shiites get the oil-rich South. Iraqi Sunnis get nothing. This has caused much anxiety for the Saudis, the Gulf countries and rest of the Sunni Arab world. These countries are likely to revise their political aims, and this will have a direct impact on Turkey.

Oil rich Arab countries are getting ready to play the Kurdish card in order to bolster the Sunni bloc in Iraq. Shiite movements supported by Iran do not sit idly by. The Shiite minority wants a part in governance in Kuwait. Yemen is no different.  As the Shiites become louder, tension between Iran and the Arabs steadily mounts.

Iran is instigating the Shiites in the Arabian Peninsula while Sunni capitalists are toiling for the silent Sunni groups in Iran to raise their voices. This game is moving to Pakistan and Afghanistan. For the Sunni Taliban to open an office in US-controlled Qatar is in itself a frightening sign. The Islamic world is heading towards a fatal confrontation.

After I wrote my ominous prediction, I saw the G2 Bulletin intelligence website which said: “There is sectarian war in horizon of Middle East. The Turks and the Arabs on one side will face Iran, Syria and Hezbollah on the other.”

This prediction hits the mark, but is not complete. [The reality] will be a bit more complicated and [the conflict] more widespread. You will have to include the Kurds and Azerbaijanis on the opposing sides. To be blunt, the Kurds will join the Arab and Turkish camp because they are Sunnis, and because of the balance of power in Iraq.

An unexpected addition to [the camp of] Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah might well be Azerbaijan. A well-placed expert warned me not to be surprised to see Azerbaijan side with Iran. [This is not impossible] - Iran and Azerbaijan are too intimate. There is significant potential for Shiite [stirring] in Azerbaijan. There are 20 million Azeris in Iran. Five out of the top seven Iranian leaders including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are Azeris. Azerbaijani President [Heydar] Aliyev is a Shiite of Kurdish origin.

The only restraint that could prevent Azerbaijan from joining Iran would be warm relations with the US. But, then, who knows of the true intentions of the US in this region.

One thing is unavoidable: The Islamic world is in for an upheaval. Turkey had so far managed to evade these complications because it had turned its back to the Middle East. Now it is a full-time, major player. We should not be surprised if we find ourselves in the midst of this conflict.

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