The Sunni-Shia War

Mixed up with ethnic gievances, is it coming to Iran? Money quote:

Eleven members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards have been killed after a car bomb hit their bus in a city in southeastern Iran. Hassan Ali Nouri, provincial governor, told IRNA, Iran's official news agency, that eleven guards were killed and 31 were injured in the blast in Zahedan city.

Iran's Fars news agency said a group that Iran has said is linked to al-Qaeda had claimed responsibility for the attack. The agency said: "A group called Jundallah under the leadership of Abdolmalek Rigi, [head of] the eastern rebels in the country... took responsibility for this terrorist act."

Zahedan is the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province which borders both Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has been hit by a string of attacks and kidnappings blamed on Jundallah (Allah's brigade), a Sunni group.

I don't think we can learn enough right now about the tensions between and within Shia and Sunni Islam. Shiite Islam, filtered through Persian civilization, may be a far more pliable force than the worst excesses of Sunni fanaticism. Ralph Peters is onto something in this essay. Money quote:

What does all this mean to us? First, wherever there are irreconcilable differences, there are strategic opportunities. Second, our insistence on seeing the Middle East through the eyes of yesteryear's failed statesmen has been disastrous--we need to reinterpret the Muslim world.

Third, we've entered a new age when all the great faiths are struggling over their identities. As the religions most-immediately besieged, Shi'ism and Sunni Islam are the noisiest and, for now, the most-violent. But all faiths are in crisis--even as every major faith undergoes a powerful renewal.

In my years as an intelligence analyst, I consistently made my best calls when I trusted my instincts, and I was less likely to get it right when I heeded the arguments around me. Today, those surrounding arguments damn Iran.

My instincts tell me our long-term problem is with Arab Sunnis, whose global aspirations have veered into madness. We have a problem with the junta currently ruling Iran, but not with Persian civilization. Meanwhile, the Bedouin fanaticism gripping so much of the Middle East has no civilization.

Our long-term strategy has to be: detach Persia from its fanatical religious leadership; wean ourselves off oil as much as possible; then reach out to Persia and Turkey as the two great Islamic civilizations that can control the unruly expanse between them.