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Will the Sunnis and Shia Reconcile? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Will the Sunnis and Shia reconcile? This is superficial question is it not? What is even more superficial is the so-called “Memorandum of Understanding” that was signed by Shia and Sunnis in Lebanon. The agreement was reached between the entire Iranian-affiliated Hezbollah and a number of representatives of Salafist factions in Lebanon.

The Shia-Sunni Memorandum of Understanding is not a religious endeavor pursued by scholars to protect Islam and Muslims from conflict between the two denominations even though all previous efforts that have been spared in this regard failed miserably. Rather, this accord is an attempt to clean up the image of those associated with Wilayat-e-Faqih; Iranian-affiliated Hezbollah in particular.

The “Muslim Brotherhood,” which denied it played any part in the signing of the accord, appeared to try to promote Hezbollah and give its approval of the party through its most recent statements. This was apparent in an Asharq Al-Awsat interview with Dr Abdul Sattar al Maliji, leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He stated that the aim of the agreement between Iranian-affiliated Hezbollah and the Salafists in Lebanon was so that Nasrallah’s party could prepare itself for the imminent battle with Israel and that he wants to “ward off the evil of those people” i.e. the Salafists.

But the question here is was it “those people” who were responsible for the invasion and occupation of Beirut and the torturing of its Sunni residents on May 7? Will “those people” forget that Hassan Nasrallah openly came out and boasted that he is part of Wilayat-e-Faqih?

The very least that can be said of the Shia-Sunni accord is that it is a weak attempt to improve the image of Hassan Nasrallah and his Iranian supporters in the eyes of Sunnis. Regrettably, this attempt has been carried out with the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood and its various branches such as Hamas. Moreover, individuals affiliated with Damascus also played a part in this; some of whom are known and others who are yet to be exposed.

The Syrians have an interest in appeasing the situation in Tripoli. If the battle between the Sunnis and Alawites that flared up and then settled down had continued, then its fires surely would have spread to Damascus especially that Syria now does not want any confrontation with Hezbollah.

Accordingly, the Shia-Sunni Memorandum of Understanding is a hidden attempt to restore shine to Nasrallah and Hezbollah’s image and an attempt to dodge the Sunni landmines in Lebanon and the region, which have become a real fear for Hassan Nasrallah and his Iranian-affiliated party.

Moreover, the accord is a strong indication of what Iran and Syria are doing to divide the Sunni ranks in Beirut. The statements of the Muslim Brotherhood were of help in this respect and the Muslim Brotherhood has not condemned Hezbollah’s occupation of Beirut.

Whatever historical battle has taken place between the Sunnis and Shia, sectarian factionalism over the concept of state and citizenship is completely unacceptable. But the attempt to polish the image of Hezbollah, which occupied Sunni areas of Beirut armed with weapons, is also unacceptable and disgraceful as there can be no reward for the aggressor!

It is common knowledge that political conflict in Lebanon is at its worst politically and militarily. However, for the matter to reach this game of so-called Shia-Sunni understanding at a time when we all know that Iranian-affiliated Hezbollah is relying on legitimacy of its weapons, this can be considered a new Iranian conspiracy against the Arab region and the Sunnis in particular.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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