By: E&P Staff
An article in Wednesday’s New York Times by Michael Slackman in Cairo draws sharply the ultimate and far-reaching disaster of the U.S. invasion of Iraq nearly four years ago.
The article opens as follows. It can be found in its entirety at www.nytimes.com.
The botched hanging of Saddam Hussein and two lieutenants in Iraq by its Shiite-led government has helped to accelerate Sunni-Shiite sectarianism across an already fragile Middle East, according to experts across the region.
The chaotic executions and the calm with which Mr. Hussein confronted the gallows and mocking Shiite guards have bolstered his image among many of his fellow Sunni Muslims. But something else is happening too: a pan-Muslim unity that surged after the summer war between Israel and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia, is waning.
And while political analysts and government officials in the region say the spreading Sunni disillusionment with Shiites and their backers in Iran will benefit Sunni-led governments and the United States, they and others worry that the tensions could start to balkanize the region as they have in Iraq itself.
?The reality of the current situation is that we are approaching an open Sunni-Shiite conflict in the region,? said Emad Gad, a specialist in international relations at the government-financed Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. ?And Egypt will also be a part of it as a part of the Sunni axis. No one will be able to avoid or escape it.?
This changing dynamic in the region, described by many scholars, analysts and officials in recent days, is a result not only of the hangings, the Iraq war and the Lebanese political struggle. It has also been encouraged by Sunni-led governments like those in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and some Sunni religious leaders alarmed by the rising influence of Iran, the region?s biggest Shiite power.