Happy New Year. We begin 2016 with a reminder of the volatility of the Middle East after Saudi Arabia beheaded 47 people on terrorism charges, including a Shia cleric, causing a rift with Iran.
This split exposes the real and historic faultline in the Middle East and Muslim world – the Sunni-Shia conflict. The Henry Jackson Society’s experts and researchers are available for comment and analysis on this and all the weeks’ stories:
Dr Alan Mendoza, Executive Director on Saudi/Iran split
“What seems to be an ever-more complicated situation in the Middle East can be understood in simple power play terms and by the historic split in Islam between the Sunni and Shia worlds. Iran and Saudi Arabia are jockeying for regional hegemony. They have toyed with proxy conflict over the past few years in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain and have now graduated to tit-for-tat direct strikes. Our leaders need to ensure that this ancient antipathy with its very modern twist does not lead to further instability in this troubled region.”
Hannah Stuart, Research Fellow on Counter-Extremism
Hannah is continuing her work on Islamism-inspired terrorism in the UK and is available to comment on counter-extremism and radicalisation-related issues.
Tom Wilson, Resident Associate Fellow on Iraq and Syria
“Although the fight against Islamic State in Syria is crucially important, we cannot afford to neglect the fight against IS in Iraq either. The recent recapture of Ramadi is encouraging, but as yesterday’s suicide bombing at Camp Speicher demonstrates, IS remains a formidable force in that country.”
Dr Andrew Foxall, Director, Russia Studies Centre
“In the coming year, Russia’s power will continue to wane. But that will not prevent President Putin from continuing to undermine the Transatlantic alliance, support the ruling regime in Syria, and pursue a policy of obstructionism in Ukraine and elsewhere.”