, creating intolerance, violence and instability. The impact of technology is also not necessarily benign, allowing easy communication, yes, but creating a megaphone for prejudice, propaganda, targeted character attacks and the erosion of trust. But these changes, while important, will not have the same far-reaching consequences as the change in the distribution of power in the system as a whole. The three options outlined above – renegotiated global norms, sectarian norms and a norm void – are not mutually exclusive, and we might pass through them
in foreign countries, including some considered to have an ideology hostile to the West, humanitarian organizations strategically turned to simple narratives in their visual appeals to depoliticize the context. Typically, the child constituted a figure that was ‘ideologically neutral’ ( Cosandey, 1998 : 5). Similarly, the focus on relief operations and benevolent workers helped to shape moral responsibilities of Western viewers to act in solidarity ‘based on need and not on identity’ ( Barnett, 2011 : 84). However, humanitarian motives were not free of sectarian
In events that have since become known as the Arab Uprisings or Arab Revolutions,
people across the Middle East took to the streets to express their anger and
frustration at political climates, demanding political and economic reform. In a
number of cases, protest movements were repressed, often violently, with
devastating repercussions for human security and peace across the
While a number of scholars have sought to understand how the protests occurred, this book looks at sovereignty and the relationship between rulers and ruled to identify and understand both the roots of this anger but also the mechanisms through which regimes were able to withstand seemingly existential pressures and maintain power.
Saudi Arabia and Iran: The struggle to shape the Middle East provides a detailed exploration of the rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran across the Middle East. As one of the most compelling rivalries in international politics, the Saudi–Iranian competition for regional influence has impacted on a number of different locales. After the onset of the Arab Uprisings and the fragmentation of regime–society relations, communal relations have continued to degenerate, as societal actors retreat into sub-state identities, whilst difference becomes increasingly violent, spilling out beyond state borders. The power of religion – and the trans-state nature of religious linkages – thus provides the means for actors, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, to exert influence over a number of groups across the region. Given these issues, the contributions to this volume, and the collection as a whole, have two main aims: firstly, to explore the nature of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran within the contemporary Middle East; and secondly, to consider the impact of this rivalry upon regional and domestic politics across the Middle East. This volume examines how the rivalry is perceived in both Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as in the contestation over religious legitimacy. It also offers in-depth explorations of the impact of this rivalry upon five regional states: Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon and Yemen, all sites of contestation between Riyadh and Tehran, albeit in different guises. In doing so, it highlights how the rivalry is shaped by the contingencies of time and space.
leads the extreme loyalist party, the Democratic Unionist party. As religious observance has declined, it might be thought that the so-called ‘sectarian’ divide in Northern Ireland might disappear. This has not been the case. Strict religious belief may be less significant, but religion still represents culture and the conflict is, to a great extent, cultural in nature. There is an old joke in Northern Ireland which illustrates the strange place of religion in the troubles. It runs like this: A Jew was walking along a Belfast street. He was stopped by a threatening
how the ideological divisions between Irishness and Britishness continue to be reproduced, despite the supposed evaporation of such discursive constructions. In pinpointing the divisions that remain and those that may reappear, this chapter argues that the capacity exists for sectarian consciousness to spread throughout the Irish body politic. The Irish ‘problem’ remains one of territory, given the existence of a border that acts as a social, constitutional, political and cultural divide. However, the northern problem may become a southern reality. A fundamental
Russia. Since the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafic Hariri and the subsequent 2006 war between Lebanon and Israel, the country has seen increased political and religious antagonism erode its tenuous sectarian balance. Two main political blocs have emerged in opposition to one another. The March 14 Coalition believes that aligning with Saudi Arabia, Europe and the US is necessary to extricate the country from the orbit of Iran and Syria. The March 8 Coalition, on the other hand, believes that an alliance with
in so-called proxy wars between Saudi Arabia and Iran in a number of Arab countries. However, in 2011, although some opposition groups called for political reforms and the promotion of democracy, most Sunni groups did not support these demands, due to long-standing communal tensions which possessed a geopolitical element. In the same context, sectarian tensions in Gulf societies have increased significantly, especially during the 2011 crisis in Bahrain. In the Bahraini case, this is due to a perception that any change
-Iranian alliance that helped forge the Abraham Accords. The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran has also shaped political, social and economic life in Lebanon and Bahrain, along with manifesting in a broader competition in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the world’s second largest inter-governmental organisation. The rivalry has also begun to resonate beyond the Middle East, manifesting in sectarian tensions across the world’s Muslim population. Political in nature, yet couched in Islamic rhetoric, it reflects a desire to
of nature is perhaps bleaker than Hobbes’, suggesting that there is a ‘natural’ transformation into this state of nature as a consequence of the increasingly repressive and sect-based politics of survival that challenge the very existence of the Syrian people. This approach stems from regimes following their instincts, their neuroses and ‘their madness’. In such conditions, groups develop narratives of superiority and victimhood as a means of ensuring their survival. As a consequence, politics is reduced to a ‘sectarian war, in which murder leads to murder