Is a New Sectarianism Reshaping the Arab World?

Ibish3 Hussein Ibish over at his blog:

Across the Arab world, terrifying sectarian dynamics are starting to emerge, essentially pitting Arab Sunnis versus all religious minorities. The elements of this have been obvious for quite a while, but the pattern has become so pronounced and almost pervasive that it demands to be recognized no matter how frightening the prospects.

Throughout the region, political forces are lining up time and again along this extremely dangerous binary divide. For instance, the ecumenism of the Egyptian revolution has given way to the most gruesome sectarian violence between the military and Islamist mobs on the one hand and Coptic protesters on the other hand. This was particularly evident over the weekend, with deadly clashes and sectarian incitement raging throughout Cairo.

The Syrian regime has done its best to cast the uprising in that country in a sectarian light, with a disturbing degree of success. Regional support for Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite-minority rule is now almost entirely restricted to non-Sunni Arabs (as well as Iran), including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Shia-led Iraqi government, Shia parliamentarians and activists in Kuwait and other Gulf States, and a significant number of Christians in Lebanon and Syria.

By contrast, Assad’s alliance with Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, has collapsed largely along sectarian lines. Support for Assad among Arab Sunnis has dropped to virtually zero, including all Sunni-dominated governments. Support for his rule has also further exacerbated the already deeply-damaged reputation of Hezbollah among Arab Sunnis.

The Sunni Arab world, meanwhile, has been largely silent about the campaign of relentless persecution and repression against the Shia majority in Bahrain, implicitly backing the oppressive rule of the Sunni-minority royal family.