We could say that the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, born in Egypt in 1928 and wiped out by ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi’s coup d’etat in 2013, has been a history of failed opportunities. For although the Muslim Brotherhood has been a grass-roots movement, deeply entrenched in civil society, it failed for decades to seize political power, and when finally, for two years (2011-2013) it succeeded in achieving its goal, its performance was poor.
After the fall of the Gaddafi regime there was - allegedly - a great opportunity to make Libya a role model for other states in the region. For various reasons this opportunity is gone. There are several indications that Libya is on the way to a lengthy civil war. Some kind of Lebanonization could be the destiny of the country.
As probably everybody is aware an unstable Libya could have a significant negative impact to the region and also to our own countries.
Sectarian tendencies and antagonisms grew into levels unknown before in the modern Middle East. They were exacerbated by conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon, and by the social and political uprisings following the “Arab spring”.
The invasion of Iraq in 2003 inaugurated a new phase, marked by fierce sectarian division, which strongly questioned the pillars on which the Iraqi ‘national’ community was built. Examining the dynamics and factors that led to these consequences will help us to understand these events within their historical context rather than viewing them as part of an endless phenomenon. The so-called ‘sectarian conflict’ in Iraq was not ‘sectarian’ because rooted only in different religious doctrines. It was a clash largely shaped along sectarian lines because of the lack of inter-communal communication and effective means of mediation. The paper focuses on the internal dynamics that led to heightened sectarianism in Iraq, starting with the historical background of political sectarianism in the first part, followed by inter-communal relations in post-2003 Iraq in the second part and concluding in the third part with recent dynamics.
Harith Hasan Al-Qarawee, Contributor to al-Monitor and Foreign Affairs and author of Imagining the Nation: Nationalism, Sectarianism and Socio-political Conflict in Iraq