Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings

Article excerpt

Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings. By Frederic M. Wehrey. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. 352 pp. $45.

The sectarian politics of this work's title refers to the often-tense relationship between Sunnis and Shiites in the Persian Gulf region. Wehrey, a senior associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, offers a comprehensive analysis of their conflict, which will be appreciated by policymakers and journalists, as well as scholars. The book is chock-full of insights and a deeply nuanced understanding of regional ShiiteSunni tensions and is a fíne addition to other recent treatments of the subject.

Wehrey takes the reader through Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait where the Shiite populations are significant. Here, the emphasis on Shiite identity is strongly influenced by politics; it seems to wax and wane with regional and internal developments. Thus Kuwait's Shiites have improved their lot and connection to the state by virtue of their resistance to the Iraqi occupation in 1990-91. The analysis of Saudi Arabia is quite good although it would have been useful to point out that anti-Shiism is a cornerstone of Wahhabi ideology, which views Shiite adherents as polytheists. …

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