Wednesday, January 6, 2016

[Editorial # 34] A dangerous escalation : The Hindu

[Following editorial has been published in The Hindu on 6th January 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer -writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]
The execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an influential Shia cleric, by Saudi Arabia has expectedly led to a flare-up of sectarian passions in West Asia. Sheikh Nimr was the most prominent religious leader of the Kingdom’s Shia minority, which has long been subjected to institutionalised segregation by the Sunni monarchy of the al-Saud family. He was the driving force behind the 2011 protests in the country’s east, inspired by Arab Spring protests elsewhere. Moreover, Sheikh Nimr was a respected cleric among the Shia community in general. He had spent years in Iran’s Shia seminaries. Tehran had repeatedly asked Riyadh to pardon him. By executing him, ignoring all those pleas, Saudi Arabia has dangerously escalated its rivalry with Iran. Within days, the stand-off has snowballed into a full-blown diplomatic crisis with sectarian overtones. Saudi missions in Tehran and Mashhad were ransacked by protesters. In return, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan have cut diplomatic relations with Iran, while the United Arab Emirates has downgraded ties.
West Asia is already witnessing sectarian conflicts. Iraq, which is torn apart on sectarian lines, is taking baby steps under the new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, to rebuild national unity. The country witnessed a bloody phase of sectarian strife in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion. Parts of the country, including the second largest city, Mosul, are still under the control of Islamic State, which is carrying out a systematic campaign against non-Sunni religious groups. In Yemen, the Shia Houthi rebels are fighting forces loyal to a Saudi-protected government led by Sunnis. In Bahrain, the wounds of a Shia rebellion which was crushed by a Sunni monarch with the help of the Saudis are still not healed. By executing Sheikh Nimr, Riyadh has poured oil into this sectarian fire, for which the region will have to pay a huge price. For decades, one of the main sources of instability in West Asia has been the cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Though the ultimate goal of both nations has been regional supremacy, they use sectarianism as a vehicle to maximise their interests. While Riyadh has the support of Sunni monarchs and dictators in the Arab world, Iran is aligned with Iraq and Syria, besides its proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. This sets the stage for a dangerous Shia-Sunni conflict across the region. Unless tensions are dialled down between these two heavyweights, there will not be peace in West Asia. Both the U.S. and Russia, allies of Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively, have called for calm. Moscow has reportedly offered to mediate between Riyadh and Tehran. The U.S. and Russia should use their influence to rein in further escalation of tensions. Unchecked, the Saudi-Iran rivalry could plunge the region, already torn apart by invasions, civil wars and terrorism, into further chaos.
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Questions:
1. Explain the following terms/phrases:
  • Shia-Sunni
  • Monarchy
  • al-Saud family
  • Sectarian Conflict
  • Islamic State
  • Houthi rebeles
  • Hezbollah
2. Which all countries are part of West Asia? 


3. Mark the countries and adjoining water bodies in and around West Asia on a political map of West Asia.
4. Which early civilisation is considered to have existed at the same part of the earth which is today called West Asia? How did it perish?
5. What are the causes of conflict currently prevailing in West Asia? How is it a cause of concern for the entire world?
6. How does an conflict-riden West Asia affect India? 
7. What steps should India take towards establishment of peace and stability in West Asia?
8. "Unchecked, the Saudi-Iran rivalry could plunge the region, already torn apart by invasions, civil wars and terrorism, into further chaos". Analyse (200 words)
9. The hostilities currently prevailing in West Asia is a direct fall-out of West's ideology of Neo-imperialism. Comment (200 words)


15 comments:

  1. Shia-Sunni:-
    Both are the names of sects in islam
    Monarchy:-
    It is a form of government where entire power rests in one person i.e. king.
    al-saud family:-
    ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia.
    Sectarian Conflict:-
    It is the conflict within the one religion but of different sects which have a minor ideological difference

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  2. Elaborate a little bit more Pasha...This is superficially written answers...

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    Replies
    1. Sunni and Shia Islam are the two major denominations of Islam.
      shia who reverates mohammad sahab's son in law as his successor and caliph.
      Sunni are those sect of islam whose adherents believe that Muhammad's father-in-law Abu Bakr, was his proper successor and believe in Sunna(mohammad Sahab's teaching)

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    2. Sectarian Conflict:it usually belongs to violent conflict on religious or political ground.
      like there is sectarian conflict between two sect of Islam over two school of thoughts i.e. Shia-Sunni. In christianity we have different sects like protestant and catholics.

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    3. Islamic State : The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a Salafi jihadist militant group that follows an Islamic fundamentalist, Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam. It follows an extremist interpretation of Islam, promotes religious violence, and regards Muslims who do not agree with its interpretations as infidels. There motto is to establish islamic state in the world.

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    4. Houthi rebel : is a Zaidi Shia group from Sa'dah, northern Yemen, which was founded by Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi.
      They started a rebellion against then Yamanese President, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

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  3. Islamic State(2004): Salafi jihadist militant group that follows an Islamic fundamentalist, Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam.
    Houthi rebeles:-
    "Ansar Allah " (1992)meaning supporters of God commonly known as the Houthis is a Zaidi Shia group founded by Hussein Badruddin al houti.
    Hezbollah(1985):- Shi'a Islamist militant group and political party based in Lebanon.

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  4. 2. Which all countries are part of West Asia?
    A. 18 countries constitute west Asia.syria, iraq, iran, omen, jordan, lebanon, palestine, israel,yemen, UAE, kuwait, qatar, georgia, armeria, azerbajain, cyprus, turkey

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  5. 3. Mark the countries and adjoining water bodies in and around West Asia on a political map of West Asia.
    A.BLACK SEA:- turkey, georgia
    CASPIAN SEA:-iran, ajerbaijan
    MEDITARRANEAN SEA:-egypt, syria,israel, lebanon,syria, cyprus, turkey
    RED SEA:-Djibouti, saudi arabia, egypt,israel,jordan,yemen
    ARABIAN SEA:-omen, UAE, qatar, bahrain, kuwait,iran

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  6. 5. Current crisis in West Asia escalated after the execution of shia cleric by Al-saud monarch. Iran is shia dominated country and the masses got infuriated after this news of execution of most influential religious leader of Shia minority in the Al-saud and protested before embassy in tehran. Saudi Arabia recalled their ambassador to Iran. In the aftermath Bahrain and Sudan cut their diplomatic ties with Iran and now UAE is considering to downgrade its engagement with Iran.

    West Asia is already war-ridden having countries like Yaman, Lebenon, Syria involved in Civil War. The growing tension between the two heavyweights may dwindle the Syrian Peace Process due in January. The tension can escalate terrorism, civil wars, invasion and bring chaos.
    while Saudi Arab has got support of Sunni monarchs and dictators in the Arab world and not less the stalwart the US, Iran is aligned with Iraq and Syria, besides its proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen and Russia. This sets the stage for a dangerous Shia-Sunni conflict across the region.

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  7. Sunni is a muslim sect who believe that Abu Bakr was rightful successor and that the method of choosing or electing leaders in endorsed by Quran.

    Shia is a muslim sect who believe that Ali cousin of Muhammad is the rightful successor and the the method of succession should be heredetory and from Muhammad family only.

    Monachry is a form of government in which the authority and sovereignty of the state is vested in one person or family till their death or renounciation.

    Al saud is the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia. It is composed of the desecedants of Muhammad Bin Saud, who is the

    founder of First Saudi state.

    sectarian conflicts are the conflicts between the different sects of same ideology or religion.

    Islamic State: IS is extremist jihadist group based in Iraq and Syria. In June, 2014 the group formally decalred the

    establishment of Caliphate or Islamic state -a state governed in accordance with sharia or Islamic law by God's deputy on

    earth or by caliph.

    Hezbollah - is a powerful political and military organisation in Lebanon made up mainly of Shia Muslims. Hezbollah means

    "Party of Gods".

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  8. 2. Which all countries are part of West Asia?
    The west asian countries are -
    Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, UAE and Yemen.

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  9. 3. Mark the countries and adjoining water bodies in and around West Asia on a political map of West Asia.
    Caspian Sea - Azerbaijan and Iran
    Persian Gulf - Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Iran and Iraq
    Mediterranean Sea - Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey
    Black Sea - Georgia and Turkey
    Red Sea - Saudi Arabia and yemen
    Arabian Sea - Yemen and Oman

    4. Which early civilisation is considered to have existed at the same part of the earth which is today called West Asia? How did it perish?
    Mesopotamia Civilization was used existed in the current day western Asia about 3500 BC ago. It was bounded by the two great rivers Tigris and Euphrates. In Greek the Mesopotamia means "between two rivers".

    Causes for the fall of mesopotamian civilization:
    1. Constant wars among the tribes for farm lands, irrigation waters and to gain territory.
    2. Too much irrigation, they had irrigated lands up to the sea.
    3. Irrigation technique, which earlier made farming possible prevented farming in the later days. When the irrigation water stored in the farm fields for a long time, the mineral salt was left over in the fields. This prevented them from further farming the land.

    5. What are the causes of conflict currently prevailing in West Asia? How is it a cause of concern for the entire world?
    1. Causes for the conflicts in western asia has its origin in 7th century on the issue of "Succession to Muhammad Prophet". The muslim at the regions has divided into two major sects. Initially the conflict used to be difference in faith and belief in nature. Later in the modern times it became more of political and regional dominance.
    2. Monarchy governments in the region also responsible for the current tensions. The Monarchs always suppressed the minority sects in their territory which aroused opposition from other states where equation is reverse.
    3. Most recently the execution of Shiek nimr, Shia Cleric and the most prominent religious leader from shia community by saudi govt added the fuel to very age old sectarian rivalry.

    One of the biggest challenge the world is facing now is the religious extremism, specially in the form of ISIS. US, Russia and other nations are working to check the IS. It is very important to have both Saudi and Iran on board to deal the same. With the recent developments it is very unlikely that these countries come together to fight the IS.
    Economically the reduced crude oil prices are affecting the markets.

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  10. What is the difference between Sunnis and Shias?

    A schism emerged after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. He died without appointing a successor to lead the Muslim community, and disputes arose over who should shepherd the new and rapidly growing faith.

    Some believed that a new leader should be chosen by consensus; others thought that only the prophet’s descendants should become caliph. The title passed to a trusted aide, Abu Bakr, though some thought it should have gone to Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law. Ali eventually did become caliph after Abu Bakr’s two successors were assassinated.

    After Ali also was assassinated, with a poison-laced sword at the mosque in Kufa, in what is now Iraq, his sons Hasan and then Hussein claimed the title. But Hussein and many of his relatives were massacred in Karbala, Iraq, in 680.

    His martyrdom became a central tenet to those who believed that Ali should have succeeded the Prophet. (It is mourned every year during the month of Muharram). The followers became known as Shias, a contraction of the phrase Shiat Ali, or followers of Ali. The Sunnis, however, regard the first three caliphs before Ali as rightly guided and themselves as the true adherents to the Sunnah, or the Prophet’s tradition.

    More than 85 per cent of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims are Sunni. They live across the Arab world, as well as in countries such as Turkey, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia. Iran, Iraq and Bahrain are largely Shia. The Saudi royal family, which practices an austere and conservative strand of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, controls Islam’s holiest shrines, Mecca and Medina. Karbala, Kufa and Najaf in Iraq are revered shrines for the Shias

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    Replies
    1. source: the hindu.
      sorry i thought it is best explained. so i copied and pasted it :p

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