Dossier: Sunni-Shiite Tension

Artist Rima Najdi wearing a fake explosive belt in Beirut on 12 January 2014 (photo: Maria Kassab)

Interview with the Lebanese activist Rima Najdi

Provocation for peace

Dressed as a suicide bomber with a fake explosive belt, "Madame Bomba" roamed the streets of Beirut ... Her aim in doing so was to provoke a reaction in those that saw her and to protest against the on-going violence in Lebanon. But who is "Madame Bomba"? Juliane Metzker spoke to Rima Najdi, the Lebanese activist behind the provocative performanceMore

Anti-government protests in Ras Roman near Manama, Bahrain (photo: picture-alliance/dpa)

Book review: "Sectarian Gulf" by Toby Matthiesen

Sectarianism instead of revolution

The Gulf states were among the many countries enveloped by the Arab Spring. However, authorities there skilfully managed to play Sunnis and Shias off against each other as a means of dividing the protest movement. Initially, the tactic proved successful, writes Toby Matthiesen in his book "Sectarian Gulf". A review by Jannis HagmannMore

A night vigil organised by the "I am not a martyr" campaign at the site of the deadly bomb attack on 27.12.2013 in Beirut (photo: Facebook group/I am not a martyr)

Civil society initiatives in Lebanon

"I am not a martyr"

Bomb attacks and other acts of violence have almost become part of everyday life in Lebanon. After recent bomb blasts, two media campaigns were launched to raise awareness among Lebanese people of the everyday violence in their crisis-torn country. A background report by Juliane MetzkerMore

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in November 2013 (photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)

Saudi Arabia's foreign policy

The bewildered kingdom

The political changes wrought by the Arab Spring in the region, the prospect of increased oil supplies from deposits outside Saudi Arabia and the possibility of an historical rapprochement between the Saudis' long-term ally (US) and their arch enemy (Iran) have been a game-changer for Saudi Arabia in recent years. Mai Yamani takes a closer look at how the kingdom is reacting to these developmentsMore

An anti-government protester gestures towards riot police during clashes in the village of Sanabis west of Manama, November 6, 2012. Hundreds of protesters march on the street of the village defying the ban on protests set by Bahrain's Ministy of Interior (photo: Reuters)

The Bahraini Activist Ala'a Shehabi

"We Are Being Spied On"

The Bahraini activist and blogger Ala'a Shehabi is certain that freedom of the press is unattainable in Bahrain, even within the framework of the national dialogue between the country's opposition and the leadership of the royal family. In an interview with Hisham al-Douriush, she tells how she and her colleagues are subject to surveillance by the Bahraini security apparatusMore

King Abdullah and members of the royal family (photo: dpa/picture-alliance)

Saudi Arabia

Facing a Plethora of Fundamental Challenges

The deterioration of Saudi Arabia's political influence has contributed to a growing sense of national decline. King Abdullah's reform efforts have lost steam. An essay by Tarek OsmanMore

Beirut near the Iranian embassy after the attack on 19 November (photo: Reuters)

Hezbollah after the Beirut Attacks

A Battle on Many Fronts

In Syria, Hezbollah is backing the Assad regime in the fight against the rebels, as a way of defending the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance. This has been met with great hostility at home in Lebanon, and is provoking reactions on the Salafist front. Background from Juliane MetzkerMore

US-President Barack Obama meets Saudi King Abdullah in Washington DC (photo: Roger L. Wollenberg/EPA)

Saudi Arabia and America

The Estrangement of Two Allies

Saudi Arabia feels as though it has been left in the lurch by the US. Primary thorns in the Saudis' side are Washington's energy policy, its rapprochement with Iran and its conduct in the Syrian conflict. Riyadh is now going its own way. By Rainer HermannMore

Ravaged by war: The Northern Syrian city of Homs (photo: Reuters)

Syria and the Middle East

The End of the Sykes Picot System?

Aside from the human suffering caused by Syria's ongoing war, we should be aware of the potentially dire regional consequences of Syria's disintegration: It would call the entire post-World War I Middle Eastern state system into question. By Volker PerthesMore

Shiite proitestors in Iran in 2013 (photo: icana.ir)

Sunni-Shia Relations

Plea for a Muslim Peace

The Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia-Herzegovina Sheikh Mustafa Cerić looks to the past for lessons on improving Sunni-Shi'a relations in today's Middle East. They are the key to regional stability, he saysMore

Lebanese army troops fighting radical sheikh al-Assir in Sidon (photo: Reuters)

Tension between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon

New Lines of Demarcation

The effects of the war in Syria are being felt in Lebanon. Violent confrontations are flaring up between the Sunnis and the Shiites in a country in which several religious groups have to coexist. And there is no reason to assume that the situation will improve. Mona Naggar reports from BeirutMore

Riots on Tahrir Square, Egypt (photo: dapd)

Essay by Nawaf Obaid

The Collapsing Arab State

The Arab Spring has toppled some regimes, though not others. But, more important, everywhere in the Arab world – and beyond – it has called into question the viability of the nation-state. An essay by Nawaf ObaidMore

Soldiers seen standing in front of the Iraqi (left) and Kurdish (centre) flags (photo: DW/K. Zurutuza)

On-going Sectarian Tension in Kirkuk

Stranded in Legal Limbo

Claimed by Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen alike, the oil-rich province of Kirkuk remains one of Iraq's most disputed and politically flammable regions ten years after Saddam Hussein was toppled. Karlos Zurutuza spoke to the most senior representatives of the region's different communities about the province's diverse problemsMore

Bahrain's king Hamed bin Isa Al Khalifa (l.) and his son prince Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa (photo: dapd)

Political Crisis in Bahrain

Reformers on the Defensive

Two years after the outbreak of the unsuccessful revolution in Bahrain and the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in the Gulf state, protests are continuing unabated. There is no end to the conflict in sight, while Saudi Arabia is setting strict boundaries to the Bahraini King Hamad's reform programme. By Guido SteinbergMore

Anti-government demonstration in Ramadi, Iraq, in February 2013 (photo: Reuters)

Iraq Ten Years after Saddam

Disenchanted Nation

Ten years after the start of the Iraq War and the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Feisal Amin Rasoul al-Istrabadi reviews developments in the country and considers whether things are better or worse now than they were before the Allied invasionMore

Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri (photo: Getty Images)

Reformist Theologians in Iran

The Search for Montazeri's Heirs

Three years since the death of the Shiite dissident, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, there is still no one in Iran who can assume his role as the spiritual authority of the reform movement. Many critical clerics have been silenced since the crushing of protests in 2009. Yet, there is increasing support for efforts to reform Islamic law in the country. By Urs SartowiczMore

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