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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Expert: Sunnis scared by Shiite bomb

Expert: Sunnis scared by Shiite bomb
Israel Project Forum hears conflicting opinions on Iranian threat; 'Sunni Muslims fear Shiite bomb' says expert
Yaakov Lappin Published:  01.09.07, 22:45

The Iranian nuclear project will never be viewed as a process leading to the production of an 'Islamic bomb,' but rather a 'Shiite bomb,' according to Dr. Shmuel Bar, Director of Studies at the Institute of Policy and Strategy in Herzliya.
Bar was speaking at a day-long conference organized by The Israel Project called 'In the Eye of the Storm: Iran in global perspectives,' held in Jerusalem on Tuesday, which attracted delegates from around the world.
In the eyes of some Arab leaders, Shiites can't be loyal to any Arab country, but will rather always be loyal to Iran, Bar said, adding that leading Muslim Brotherhood cleric Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi warned Shiites not to "meddle in Sunni affairs."
Bar highlighted the increasingly prevalent confrontation stretching across the Middle East between Sunnis and Shiites, and said "Iran's doctrine of exporting its revolution," as well as its attempt to gain hegemony over the region, was being perceived "by Sunni Muslims as an attack on Arab Sunnis."
 He cited an argument between the late al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and the al-Qaeda deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, who debated "at what stage in the jihad we should convert the Shiites or kill them all."
Bar also said Iran's increasing influence in Iraq and Lebanon was attracting a flow of Sunni 'holy fighters' to take on Shiite powerbases.
'Hizbullah is counterfeit organization'
"Hizbullah is a counterfeit Arab organization which takes its cue from Iran. It provoked a war to help Iran against the US," Bar added, noting the "very cool reaction" the Hizbullah war received among Arab states.
Dr. Brenda Shaffer, of Haifa University's Department of East Asian Studies, said Iran has demonstrated its ability to sacrifice ideology for material gain, as is the case Tehran's relations with Moscow.
"The price for not having good relationship is much higher," said Shaffer, adding: "Iran in general subordinates cultural interests to material interests… to an Israeli audience, that might be surprising."
Shaffer said Iran, in the interests of maintaining good relations neighboring Russia, was "willing to sacrifice Muslims in Chechnya, and Shiites in Azerbaijan," noting that this "had very little to do with its Islamist ideology."

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