Shi’ite Muslims in Islamabad, Pakistan, are shown on January 10 protesting the US killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. (Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images)

The Role of Shi’ite Terrorism Returns

Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, January 18

For the past 20 years, the international community has been directing its arrows against Sunni terrorism while excluding and turning a blind eye toward Shi’ite terrorism. According to Western eyes, Sunni terrorism – led by groups like al-Qaida, Islamic State and Boko Haram – represented a greater danger to the West than any other source of terrorism. The truth is that the Sunni world simply happens to be more divided than the Shi’ite world. While Shi’ites speak in one voice and create the impression that their extremists can be dealt with through negotiations, the Sunni world has been dominated by internal rifts, with each group expressing loyalty to its exclusive leader. This created the perception that Sunni extremism is far more dangerous to the global order. But those who study Shi’ite texts will immediately notice that Shi’ite heritage directly legitimizes terrorism in ways that far exceed what one might find in Sunni texts. US President [Donald] Trump is the first American president to reframe this flawed thinking. While his predecessor, Barack Obama, dealt with Iran with a great deal of grace and courtesy, Trump bravely indicated, from the beginning of his presidency, that Iran is the most dangerous terrorist regime in the world. While Obama turned a blind eye to Iran’s financing of Shi’ite terror proxies throughout the Middle East, Trump explicitly singled out – and threatened – these groups. Some pundits suggested that the West’s decision to give carte blanche to Shi’ite terrorists stemmed from some sort of conspiracy against Sunnis. But in my view, this is incorrect. The war on al-Qaida and ISIS has been extremely justified. Like other analysts have claimed before, I believe that this issue is a matter of priorities. Once the West eliminated Sunni terrorism by defeating ISIS, it is now turning to Shi’ite terrorism, and it is dealing with it with the same firmness and strength with which it dealt with Sunni terrorism. The assassination of Qasem Soleimani is not much different from the elimination of Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Therefore, in my view, the defeat of the mullah regime, just like the defeat of ISIS, is simply a matter of time. It might take a few months or a few years, but it will eventually come. – Muhammad Al-Sheikh (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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