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The Changing Nature of Shia Politics in the Contemporary Middle East
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The Changing Nature of Shia Politics in the Contemporary Middle East (Hardback)

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While it is true to say that the relationship between the two main sects of Islam has been tense for generations, it is only recently that this relationship has become confrontational, at times displaying worrying signs of deep hostility. Inter-confessional tensions have been on the rise thanks to the dynamic nature of politics in Muslim states in the second half of the twentieth century. The dramatic transformation of Shia Iran into an Islamic Republic in 1979, the Afghan Jihad, the civil war in the Lebanon, and more recently the transformation of a majority Shia Iraq into Iran's close spiritual and political ally in the early twenty-first century have all added to an already complex inter-communal relationship. Together, forces such as revolution, civil war, internal strife, and regime change have provided the catalysts for the transformation of Shia communities regionally and internationally into political communities, energising the Shia into direct political action.Tension between the two communities has intensified even further during the Arab spring and the geopolitical fallout from widespread Arab uprisings, often placing the Shia and their allies at the vortex of regional developments - as in the Bahraini uprising, revolutionary change in Yemen, and the violent Syrian revolution.

As Sunni Islamists also gain power in several Arab countries for the first time, this book reminds us that Sunni - Shia relations have been marked by cooperation as well as conflict. It thus provides a dispassionate study and account of Shia politics in modern times, arguing that Shia politics matters now more to the Middle East region, and the Muslim world more widely, than at any time since the demise of the Ottoman empire. The Changing Nature of Shia Politics in the Contemporary Middle East, thus, aims to reflect the nature and intensity of debates about SuShi relations in the region. The book looks at the different political changes in the region and their impact on the dynamics of Shia politics in the contemporary Middle East, ending with a chapter devoted to the future role of Shia in the political process during these extraordinary times.

Professor Anoushiravan Ehteshami is the Nasser Al-Sabah Chair in International Relations at Durham University and Director of the HH Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah Programme in International Relations and Regional Security in its School of Government and International Affairs. He is Joint Director of the Durham-Edinburgh-Manchester Universities' ESRC-funded Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW). Dr Mahjoob Zweiri is an Assistant Professor in Contemporary History of Iran and Middle East, and the Head of Humanities Department at Qatar University. He was formerly a Research/Teaching Fellow at the institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Durham and Director of its Centre for Iranian Studies. He also previously worked for the Centre for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan as a senior researcher in Middle Eastern and Iranian Studies.

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