Conflict Within Islam:
Sunnis and Shiites
by by Avi Lipkin
Sunni Muslims make up 85% of the Islamic world; the Shiites, only 15%. But the 15% of Shiites are concentrated in the Persian Gulf, where the oil is. That’s the key to understanding the war that is coming against Iran and the war that is going to return the fanatic Shiites to Sunni subjugation.
First we have to go back to the Prophet Muhammad. When he died in 632, his followers couldn’t agree on whether to choose bloodline successors or leaders most likely to follow the tenets of the faith. So, two groups emerged: the Sunnis chose Abu Bakr, the prophet’s adviser, to become the first successor, or caliph, to lead the Muslim state. The Shiites went with bloodline and chose Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law. In 656, Ali’s supporters killed the third caliph of the Sunnis. Soon after, the Sunnis killed Ali’s son Husain. Fighting continued, but the Sunnis emerged victorious over the Shiites.
Now, fast forward to 1979. For almost 1300 years, almost nothing was heard about the Shiites. They were there, only 15% of the Islamic population, but they were basically disregarded by everybody else. In 1927, a number of things in history changed all that.
The big hero of Shiite Islam is Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter did not like the Shah of Iran. Shah Reza Pahlavi was a man who suppressed Islam. In that way, he was like Kemal Ataturk in Turkey, who strove to make his country secular. And because Shiite Islam was the Islam of Iran, the Shah suppressed Shiites.
President Jimmy Carter also did not like the Shah of Iran because he was a dictator. In the Middle East there is no democracy. So, if there is no democracy and you are the ruler, you are a dictator. The Iranian Secret Service ruthlessly suppressed the fanatic Muslims in Iran. Jimmy Carter didn’t like human rights violations, so he decided to bring down the Shah. Jimmy Carter is and was a religious man, and he heard about another religious man named Ayatollah Khomeini.
Why did Jimmy Carter, the religious Christian, choose Ayatollah Khomeini? Because Ayatollah was also a religious man. And, of course, if you are a religious Christian, that’s the same as being a religious Muslim, isn’t it?
Well, the first thing that Ayatollah Khomeini did was take the U.S. diplomats hostage in the embassy in Tehran. All of a sudden, Shiite Iran comes into full bloom, into full resurgence, into full renaissance. The Shiites see a new vindication in the rise of their system, and the Shiites are not just happy about having Iran; the Shiites look to the persecuted Shiites everywhere else.
Iranians have a territorial strategy called the “Shiite Crescent.” The first country of the Shiite Crescent was Iran. Who created it? Jimmy Carter turned Iran into a fanatic Islamic malignant growth, which is now metastasizing and spreading its tentacles to other countries with Shiite populations.
Like Iraq. Iraq borders Iran and 60% of the population is Shiite. George W. Bush did the right thing by removing Saddam Hussein, but let’s stop and pause for a moment and think like Shiite Muslims. In Iraq, 60% are Shiites. But did the Shiites ever rule Iraq? No, it was always the Sunnis. And, in fact, Saddam Hussein represented only a part of the Sunnis, the Arab Sunnis which were 20% of the population. With the U.S. promoting a representative government, the Shiites will have the ruling majority.
The Sunnis have had control for 1300 years. Now all of a sudden the hand of the Shiites is raised. This is a revolution in Islamic thinking. The Shiites have a Messianic dream of defeating the Sunnis. They feel they must overthrow the Sunni kingdom so that they will have true Orthodox Islam-the family of Mohammed should be ruling Mecca and Medina.
Yet, next month I will lay out three possible scenarios; all three of them will lead to the suppression of Shiite Islam. For more information see my newest briefing, Shiite/Sunni: The Two Houses of Islam.