Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings

Paperback | October 25, 2016

byFrederic M. Wehrey

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One of Foreign Policy's Best Five Books of 2013, chosen by Marc Lynch of The Middle East Channel

Beginning with the 2003 invasion of Iraq and concluding with the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings, Frederic M. Wehrey investigates the roots of the Shi'a-Sunni divide now dominating the Persian Gulf's political landscape. Focusing on three Gulf states affected most by sectarian tensions-Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait-Wehrey identifies the factors that have exacerbated or tempered sectarianism, including domestic political institutions, the media, clerical establishments, and the contagion effect of external regional events, such as the Iraq war, the 2006 Lebanon conflict, the Arab uprisings, and Syria's civil war.

In addition to his analysis, Wehrey builds a historical narrative of Shi'a activism in the Arab Gulf since 2003, linking regional events to the development of local Shi'a strategies and attitudes toward citizenship, political reform, and transnational identity. He finds that, while the Gulf Shi'a were inspired by their coreligionists in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon, they ultimately pursued greater rights through a nonsectarian, nationalist approach. He also discovers that sectarianism in the region has largely been the product of the institutional weaknesses of Gulf states, leading to excessive alarm by entrenched Sunni elites and calculated attempts by regimes to discredit Shi'a political actors as proxies for Iran, Iraq, or Lebanese Hizballah. Wehrey conducts interviews with nearly every major Shi'a leader, opinion shaper, and activist in the Gulf Arab states, as well as prominent Sunni voices, and consults diverse Arabic-language sources.

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One of Foreign Policy's Best Five Books of 2013, chosen by Marc Lynch of The Middle East ChannelBeginning with the 2003 invasion of Iraq and concluding with the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings, Frederic M. Wehrey investigates the roots of the Shi'a-Sunni divide now dominating the Persian Gulf's political landscape. Focusing on th...

Frederic M. Wehrey is a senior associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is a specialist in the politics of the Persian Gulf, and his articles and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy. He holds a do...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:October 25, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231165137

ISBN - 13:9780231165136

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionList of AbbreviationsPart I. The Roots of Sectarianism1. Governance2. The Long Shadow of the Iranian RevolutionPart II. Bahrain3. Debating Participation: The Bahraini Shia and Regional Influences4. Sectarian Balancing: The Bahraini Sunnis and a Polarized Parliament5. Into the Abyss: The Pearl Roundabout Uprising and Its AftermathPart III. Saudi Arabia6. Loyalties Under Fire: The Saudi Shia in the Shadow of Iraq7. Under Siege: The Salafi and Regime Countermobilization8. Waving Uthman's Shirt: Saudi Arabia's Sectarian SpringPart IV. Kuwait9. Renegotiating a Ruling Bargain: The Kuwaiti Shia10. Tilting Toward Repression: The Sunni Opposition and the Kuwaiti Regime11. A Balancing Act Goes Awry: Sectarianism and Kuwait's Mass ProtestsConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

In this magisterial account, Fred Wehrey goes a long way in demystifying and dissecting the issue of sectarianism in the Gulf?. [His] account is particularly refreshing for bringing scholarly gravitas to a subject that is all too often discussed in glib and superficial terms. Sectarian Politics in the Gulf is a must read that offers a fresh and innovative contribution to the literature in international relations and comparative government. It is extremely well written and laid out. The book belongs on the syllabus of any class dealing with Gulf security and on the desk of policy planners and decision makers around the world.