Book

Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

Frederic Wehrey

Published by Columbia University Press

Published in print December 2013 | ISBN: 9780231165129
Published online November 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780231536103 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.7312/columbia/9780231165129.001.0001
Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

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Beginning with the 2003 invasion of Iraq and concluding with the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings, this book investigates the roots of the Shi'a–Sunni divide now dominating the Persian Gulf's political landscape. Focusing on three Gulf states affected most by sectarian tensions—Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait—it identifies the factors that have exacerbated or tempered sectarianism, including domestic political institutions, the media, clerical establishments, and the contagion effect of external regional events, such as the Iraq War, the 2006 Lebanon conflict, the Arab uprisings, and Syrian Civil War. In addition, the book builds a historical narrative of Shi'a activism in the Arab Gulf since 2003, linking regional events to the development of local Shi'a strategies and attitudes toward citizenship, political reform, and transnational identity. It finds that, while the Gulf Shi'a were inspired by their coreligionists in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon, they ultimately pursued greater rights through a nonsectarian, nationalist approach. It also discovers that sectarianism in the region has largely been the product of the institutional weaknesses of Gulf states, leading to excessive alarm by entrenched Sunni elites and calculated attempts by regimes to discredit Shi'a political actors as proxies for Iran, Iraq, or Lebanese Hizballah. Interviews were conducted with nearly every major Shi'a leader, opinion shaper, and activist in the Gulf Arab states, as well as prominent Sunni voices, and consults diverse Arabic-language sources.

Keywords: sectarianism; Arab uprisings; Shi'a–Sunni divide; Persian Gulf; Bahrain; Saudi Arabia; Kuwait; Iraq War; Shi'a; Sunni

Book.  352 pages. 

Subjects: Asian History

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Table of Contents

Governance, Society, and Identity in the Gulf in Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

Chapter

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The Long Shadow of the Iranian Revolution in Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

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Debating Participation in Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

Chapter

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Sectarian Balancing in Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

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Into the Abyss in Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

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Loyalties Under Fire in Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

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Under Siege in Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

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Waving ʿUthman’s Shirt in Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

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Renegotiating a Ruling Bargain in Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

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Tilting Toward Repression in Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

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