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Dominic Lawson hits a home run with his last ever column for The Independent.
Yet the idea that Israel is the proximate cause of any tension within that part of the world – and therefore of the sea of blood sweeping through Egypt and Syria – is paranoiac when not deliberately mendacious. In many cases, the origins of the problems go back to the death of the prophet Mohamed, and the split between the followers who believed his successor should be appointed under Arab tribal tradition –later known as the Sunni – and those who insisted his successor should be from his family, and nominated Mohamed’s cousin and son-in-law Ali – the group which became known as Shia muslims.
In certain Arab countries, power had been held for generations by the Sunni, even while a majority of the population might have been Shia. This was the case in Iraq, where a sectarian civil war was precipitated by the disastrously misconceived US invasion. The opposite is true of Syria, a majority Sunni country, yet ruled by Alawites, a branch of the Shia. Not surprisingly, the rebels there are overwhelmingly Sunni, backed by the Sunni regimes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar; and Bashar’s main backer is the Shia regime of Iran.
This tribal and sectarian dispute, which has the potential to become the Muslim equivalent of the Thirty Years War, has about as much to do with Israel as did the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. And the peoples involved care very little, if at all, about the fate of the Palestinians – certainly much less than do Nigel Kennedy and Roger Waters.
Yet some western governments still fall for the bizarre idea that if the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians were to be sorted, then this would help to solve all the other conflicts in the region. Thus the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius declared last week, following a meeting with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: “The Israeli-Palestinian issue is …perhaps the central issue of the region.”
Read the whole thing.
Dominic has not given a reason for leaving The Independent, but I hope we see his writing again soon.