Dossier: Sunni-Shiite Tension

Still from an ISIS propaganda video (photo: picture-alliance/abaca)

ISIS propaganda and use of social networks

The online jihad

The terrorist group ISIS (which now refers to itself as Islamic State) has been conducting a massive propaganda campaign via social networks on the Internet. In addition to intimidating opponents, the group wants to establish its own media brand. By Nastassja SteudelMore

Portrait of the last Ottoman Caliph, Abdulmecid II. Photo: Library of Congress

History of the Caliphate

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We are all caliphs!

The history of the Caliphate is, with a few exceptions, an unstable and unhappy one. In this essay, Stefan Weidner explains why the self-appointed caliphs of today, like the ISIS leader in Iraq, have little in common with the caliphs of oldMore

ISIS using a bulldozer to destroy Sunni sites in Tal Afar. Photo: justpaste.it/atrah

ISIS' cultural vandalism

A trail of destruction

Cultural barbarism prevails in the territories declared a "caliphate" by the radical Islamic group ISIS. The sad irony of this is that its members are even destroying monuments to the companions of Muhammad, whom they themselves supposedly revere. Joseph Croitoru reportsMore

The self-styled "caliph", Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Photo: YouTube

ISIS leader in Iraq

The new face of jihad?

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has been active in Syria for two years now. It currently has around 5,000 fighters there – and the numbers are growing. Aron Lund, who has written studies on Syria's fighter landscape for the Swedish Institute for International Affairs, explains the terrorist organisation's strategies to Mona SarkisMore

The Lebanese journalist and political scientist Abdel Mottaleb El-Husseini. Photo: private

Interview with the political scientist Abdel Mottaleb El-Husseini

Lebanon: "A mixture of vacuum and volcano"

A million Syrian refugees, a catastrophic economy and increasing domestic hostility towards Hezbollah: the war in Syria is pushing neighbouring Lebanon to the limit. Mona Sarkis spoke to the Lebanese journalist Abdel Mottaleb el-Husseini about the current political situation in his countryMore

US Secretary of State John Kerry on a visit to the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, in Baghdad. Photo: Reuters

The Iraq crisis and the West

The ugly new order in the "Fertile Crescent"

Iraq is in the grip of a devastating inner-Islamic religious war. The conflict has an inherent dynamic that cannot be stopped by presidential wishful thinking or a hurried visit to Baghdad by US foreign minister John Kerry. Stefan Buchen commentsMore

Nouri al-Maliki (photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Nouri al-Maliki and the Iraqi crisis

Not the right guy for Iraq

The terror in Iraq is a Sunni rebellion against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, writes Birgit Svensson in Baghdad, who lays the blame for the country's dire straits squarely at the door of its Shia head of governmentMore

Members of an ISIS unit in Nineveh (photo: AFP)

ISIS and the Iraqi government

In the grip of the jihadists

For years, Iraq's Sunnis have been marginalised by the central government in Baghdad. This is now having dire consequences. It is apparent that ISIS's advance has been aided by former Sunni officers from the Saddam era. By Karim El-GawharyMore

Ala'a Shehabi (photo: Ala'a Shehabi)

The Bahraini activist Ala'a Shehabi

David versus goliath

The Bahraini economist Ala'a Shehabi has taken up the fight for democracy in her native country. In light of the fact that the repression of activists has increased here over the past three years and that the regime is spending millions on PR, hers is set to be a long, uphill struggle. By Iris MostegelMore

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

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"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

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