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Amerikanernes problemer skygger for at kløften mellom shiaer og sunnier utvides faretruende. Sunniene tror de er utsatt for et komplott: De ser USA, Iran, shiaene i Irak, og Israel som del av en sammensvergelse for å styrte sunnienes historiske dominans.

Slik vokser det paranoide forestillinger ut av. Men også oppfordringer om å støtte sunni-opprøret i Irak.

Det er store krefter som er i sving. De ytre handlingene rister i de underliggende problemer, og gjør det latente aktivt. Det kjennes av mange som at det er USA som utløser all denne uro, og antiamerikanismen øker. Men i virkeligheten stikker problemen mye dypere.

Salah Nasrawis analyse i AP gir egentlig gode grunner til at amerikanerne må bli. Sunniene i Egypt og Saudi-Arabia føler seg kringsatt. De mobiliserer, og kommer ikke til å sitte stille og se på at Bagdad blir renset.

The 2003 U.S.-led war to topple Saddam’s Sunni-run regime in Iraq has rekindled the centuries-old divide between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and the suspicions have grown dramatically stronger since Saddam’s Dec. 30 execution.

In Friday prayers in the Qatari capital, influential Sunni cleric Sheik Youssef Qaradawi accused Iraq’s Shiite government of «a genocide» against Sunnis and appealed to the Sunni world to intervene.

In Saudi Arabia, the religious establishment — rooted in the hard-line Wahhabi stream of Sunni Islam — has stepped up its anti-Shiite rhetoric. Last month, about 30 clerics called on Sunnis around the Middle East to support their brethren in Iraq against Shiites and praised the insurgency. Later, Saudi cleric Abdul Rahman al-Barak declared Shiites around the world to be infidels who should be considered worse than Jews or Christians.

Newspapers and television talk shows, especially in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are filled with anti-Shiite rhetoric. In its latest edition, Egypt’s state-owned Rose El-Youssef weekly carried a cover story on Saddam’s execution with a banner headline: «Raising the ugly face of Shiites, expanding Iranian influnce in the region.»

«Saddam’s execution unmasked the Persian hatred against Arabs and revealed the true affiliation of the (Shiite) militia-government in Baghdad,» wrote Ghassan Al-Immam in the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat paper Tuesday.

Montasser el-Zayat, a lawyer and former member of the Egyptian militant group Gamaa Islamiya, warned that the sectarian divisions unleashed in Iraq — by the U.S. invasion, in his view — could spark similar splits in other Arab nations.

«The example set in Iraq will spread into other countries in the region,» he said in an interview with the Associated Press. «We (in Egypt) have Coptic Christians and Nubians, Algerians and Moroccans have Berbers, and Saudi Arabia has Shiites. What will we do with them?»

Last week, el-Zayat held a memorial ceremony for Saddam at Cairo’s Lawyers Syndicate, where several speakers warned of a Shiite-Iranian-American and Israeli conspiracy against Sunnis.

El-Zayat insists Sunnis should rally behind even autocratic governments if necessary to confront the Shiite rise.

Det finnes et underutviklet sivilt samfunn. Mye kretser rundt religion, og når religion blir konfliktområde, er det ikke noen annen arena som kan ta dens plass.

Liberale araberer advarer mot den retorikken som er i bruk, og sier den smaker av rasisme mot shiaene.

Some liberal Arab intellectuals warn against Shiite-phobia.

«It is understandable and even justifiable to fear Iran and its policies … but what is not justified … is the abusive language and racist expressions which are being used against the Iranians,» wrote columnist Hazem Saghiyeh in the Arab daily Al-Hayat.

Recent events fuel Arab ire toward U.S.

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