by Ted Belman
MEMRI has a extensive article to explain The Fatah-Hamas Conflict: Roots and Implications
But what I found most interesting is the discussions on the Sunni-Shiite divide; the bad and the badder.
In order to preserve their religious status, they had to win the struggle for primacy as the champions of Islam throughout the world. This was a struggle for the heart and mind of all Muslims.
To win this struggle each tries to be the baddest rather than the goodest. Interesting, no? So much for the “religion of peace”.
[..] Thus, the rivalry between two critical regional powers – Iran and Saudi Arabia – has a distinct religious dimension. This aspect of the rivalry was less significant prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, because the Shah was anything but religious, and because both countries were in the American orbit. But with the Islamic Revolution, things changed dramatically.
The takeover of the U.S. embassy and the taking of U.S. hostages by Iranian students on November 4th, 1979 was greeted throughout the Muslim world as a victory of Islam over the infidels. These Iranian students – one of whom is believed to have been Ahmadinejad – managed to humiliate the great American superpower. This was a confirmation of the Islamist belief that by acting fearlessly in the name of Islam, Muslims could defeat the infidels. The fact that it was a victory by Shi’ites, a minority group in the Islamic world, did not detract from the sense of achievement among Muslims in general. In the grand division of the world into two camps – believers and infidels – there was a near-universal Muslim solidarity with Khomeini’s Iran.
For the Saudi regime, however, the prestige earned by the Islamic Revolution in Iran posed a problem. In their view, it is the House of Saud, the Defender of the Two Holy Places – Mecca and Medina – that is the rightful guardian of true Islam – that is, Sunni Islam, in accordance with the Wahhabi doctrine. In their view, it was they who deserved to lead the Islamic awakening – not the heretical Shi’ite Ayatollah Khomeini, whom they considered not much better than an infidel. The religious aura of the House of Saud was a political asset in the pan-Arab and international arena, and even more so within its own kingdom. In order to preserve their religious status, they had to win the struggle for primacy as the champions of Islam throughout the world. This was a struggle for the heart and mind of all Muslims.
Therefore, in response to the challenge posed by the Iranian Revolution, the Saudis took a dual course of action: they embarked on a jihad against the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and they launched a far-reaching operation for the propagation of Islam. To this end, they invested billions of dollars through Islamic charities in order to build mosques and religious seminaries (madrasas) throughout the world. Obviously, these madrasas and mosques were venues for the propagation of Jihadi Islam. Although this process cannot be quantified, its effects have become evident in far-flung Muslim communities, ranging from Manchester to San Diego, from Durban to Copenhagen. One of the beneficiaries of the Saudi largess was Hamas, a Palestinian offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1987.
The 1989 Soviet debacle in Afghanistan was a great victory for Islamism. A decade after Khomeini’s Islamic Shiâ€™ite revolution in Iran, Sunni Islam triumphed over the infidel Communist power. The U.S. believed at the time that they had effectively manipulated Islam to deal a blow to the Soviets. But for the Islamists this was only a single battle in the global drama that would unfold until the ultimate victory of Islam, which would include the trouncing of the U.S.
The article goes on to discuss the implications of 9/11