Seeds: The root of the divide between the Sunnis and Shiites can be traced all the way back to 632 after the death of the prophet Mohammed. There was an disagreement over who would succeed the prophet, and this argument evolved into a vehement feud (think fandom rivalry between Backstreet Boys and NSync fans, both believe in the same basic principles but follow different leaders). Sunnis believe Muslim leaders do not have to be direct descendants of Mohammed, while Shiites refused to recognize any Sunni-elected leaders. Today we see this divide throughout the Middle East, as shown in the maps above.
Core: Despite the fact that this tension has ancient roots, the hostility was exacerbated after conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran broke out in the early 2000’s when the US invaded Iraq and removed President Saddam Hussein from power. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran wished to be the dominant voice of Islam and to assume power in Iraq. In order gain more support, both countries aggravated the religious conflict between the Sunnis and Shiites.
Skin: The media focuses a great deal on warfare in the Middle East, but rarely explains the true roots of the hostility. However, trying to understand the Middle East without this basic knowledge, is like trying to be a Belieber without listening to “Baby.”
Leaves: The effects of the Sunni-Shiite conflict are painted all across the Middle East. This includes the rise of ISIS.
Food For Thought: What do you think about the split between the Sunnis and Shiites? What do you think of the media’s portrayal of this conflict? Tell us what you think.
Think we missed something? Tell us in the comments.