Saudi Arabia, in an indication that it is serious about shaving off the sharp edges of its Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism, has agreed to surrender control of the Great Mosque in Brussels.
A host of conflicts, stretching across the Asian landmass from the Middle East to Southeast Asia and northwest China, are likely to spark violence, complicate economic development, and dash hopes for sustainable stability.
If week-long anti-government protests in Iran exposed the Islamic republic’s deep-seated economic and political problems, they also laid bare Saudi Arabia’s structural inability to establish itself as the leader of the Sunni Muslim world.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is a man who thrives on seizing the initiative. Let him spot a chance to gain a diplomatic advantage, and he will not hesitate to act. Aware that the Geneva-based talks on settling the Syrian conflict were faltering, and realizing that no other player was on the field, he jumped forward to chance his arm at brokering a Russian-led peace deal.
The struggle for dominance between Saudi Arabia and Iran – one the leader of the Sunni Muslim world, the other of the Shi’ite – is being conducted up and down the Middle East. In Syria and Yemen, the conflict has descended into open conflict. In Iraq it is largely a struggle for political superiority. Elsewhere the two countries are competing by proxy, providing varying degrees of support to opposing sides in disputes in Bahrain, Qatar, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
It’s hard to prove beyond doubt a direct causal link between militancy and Saudi-inspired ultra-conservative forms of Sunni Muslim Islam. That hasn’t stopped Belgium’s parliament from attempting to wrest control from Saudi Arabia of Brussel’s downtown Grand Mosque after three years in which Belgians played a prominent role in Islamic State attacks in the Belgian capital as well as Paris.
The plight of Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya minority is becoming the Muslim world’s latest rallying call emulating the emotional appeal of the Palestinians in the second half of the 20th century.
“The Islamic groups protesting Myanmar’s Rohingya killings are shamefully silent over the persecution of minorities in their own countries. We must not let them Islamize the conflict”, says Shamil Shams.
US President Donald J. Trump in a step that could embolden Saudi Arabia to move ahead with plans to destabilize Iran, has instructed White House aides to give him the arguments for withholding certification in October that Iran has complied with its nuclear agreement with world powers.