10 September 2015
The Iran nuclear deal pursued by the United States will be capitalised by the Islamic State (ISIS) within the aggrieved Sunnis as just another alliance between the West and the Shiites, thus lending more support for the ISIS push for a Caliphate. There will also be a rise in sectarian violence as a Sunni-Shia proxy war could be on the horizon.
Since the Iraqi war in the 2000s and civil war in Syria in the 2010s, the Sunnis have been ostracised and discriminated against within their respective states. Sunnis have been subjected to violence and treated as second-class citizens under Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and by the Iran-backed Shiite militias. The treatment meted out by leaders and entities that are Shiite and backed by Iran, have consequently created sympathy for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) amongst the more extreme Sunnis. Not only did this result in mass mobilisation of extremist Sunni Muslims for the cause of ISIS, but it also contributed to negative sentiments towards the Shiites in the region.
The nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers – United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – constitutes a modus vivendi of sorts between them to limit Iran’s nuclear programme and lift international sanctions against Iran. While the objective of the compromise is to bring Iran back into the international fold, the deal will ironically entrench the notion of ‘Sunni discrimination’ within the aggrieved Sunni populace in the Middle East that would perceive the deal as an alliance between the West and Shiite Iran. This scenario provides ISIS the opportunity to exploit the concerns of Sunnis to their advantage, and strengthen support for their vaunted Islamic ‘Caliphate’.
… Shahzeb Ali Rathore is a research analyst with the International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
ICPVTR / Online
Last updated on 16/11/2015