To The Editor:
There are two ideological wars going on simultaneously within Islam.
The first is between the nominal, somewhat secular Muslim, and the true believer who wants to convert the whole world to Islam, by force if necessary, and then to install Sharia law on everyone in the religious state whether they like it or not. It seems from the struggles in Egypt that these two sides of Islam are about equally divided, at least in that country.
The second battle is between Sunni Islam, the majority sect, and Shia Islam. This divide happened in the first hundred years of Islam back in the eighth century and had to do with who should succeed Mohammed after he died. These two branches of Islam have been fighting each other for almost 1,300 years and not understanding this divide has caused our country’s foreign policy to go adrift.
Iraq is a good example of this Sunni, Shia division. Under Saddam Hussein, the Sunnis, who were a minority of the population, ruled a majority Shia nation with great internal conflict. The USA drove Saddam and the Sunni minority from power in Iraq and turned the country over to the Shia majority, who are now aligned firmly with Iran, our avowed enemy, another case of the law of unintended consequences. Now every week one hears of bombing in Iraq where countless Shia Muslims are slaughtered by the deposed Sunni minority.
This bloodshed will never stop and Iraq will never have peace because of the Sunni, Shia conflict. For us to take sides in this conflict is madness.
Now Syria is in a civil war and both of these above described forces are at work. In Syria, Al Assad is a member of the Alawite minority Islamic sect which is an offshoot of Shia Islam. The problem is that most of the country is Arabic and of the Sunni Islamic persuasion. And then you have the nominal versus the true-believer Islamic divide. With all the foreign Jihadist fighters now in Syria, the outcome of overthrowing Al Assad will probably bring with it a fundamentalist Islamic state which is in no one’s best interest except the Islamic true-believers who want to subjugate the world to Allah.
Sometimes it’s best to go with the devil you know than to chance a new devil that you can’t anticipate or predict.