WorldViews: Why Sunnis and Shiites are fighting, explained in two minutes

By Max Fisher, January 22, 2014


The divide between the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam is both ancient and still highly consequential today. In Syria, a Sunni-majority country dominated by members of a Shiite sect, fighting that began as anti-government has taken on sectarian overtones. That has spilled over to Iraq, which is Shiite-majority and has a predominantly Shiite government but is increasingly troubled by Sunni rebels. And the region's major powers have long pushed sectarian interests, with Shiite-majority Iran on one side and Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia on the other.

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