Hugh Fitzgerald has written a great deal here about the fact that the Sunni/Shi’ite conflict is 1,400 years old, and as it was not created (contrary to fashionable claims) by the American presence in Iraq, it cannot be ended by continuing that presence.
Now Dinesh D’Souza begs to differ:
Ask youself this question: can you name two previous wars that have been fought between the Shia and the Sunni? I didn’t think so. Neither can I. Because there aren’t any. The Shia and the Sunni have not been fighting for centuries. Historically speaking, they have not been fighting at all.
Oh, pick me, Mr. D’Souza! Over here! My hand is up. Let’s see. Two previous wars between Sunnis and Shia? How about these, sir? Leaving aside the massacres at Karbala that mark the definitive split between Sunnis and Shia in 680, here are a few highlights:
754: Plans to enthrone the Shi’ite Jafar As-Siddiq as caliph, thus ending the schism, were disrupted when Jafar was murdered by the Sunni Al-Mansur, who himself became caliph.
972: Shi’ite Fatimids conquer Sunni Egypt, and continue fighting Sunnis until they rule much of North Africa and the Middle East.
1040s: Sunni Zirid revolt in North Africa against Shi’ite rule.
1169: The Sunnis Nuraddin and Saladin seize Egypt, ending Shi’ite Fatimid rule.
Early 1500’s: Shi’ites take control of Persia, violently suppressing Sunni ulama.
1514: War between the Sunni Ottoman Turks and the Shi’ite Persian Safavids.
1623: More war between the Sunni Ottoman Turks and the Shi’ite Persian Safavids. This conflict was centered in Iraq. The Safavids captured Baghdad in 1624; the Ottomans recaptured it in 1638.
And here’s one you’re old enough to remember, Mr. D’Souza:
1980-1988: Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-controlled Iraq fights a protracted war against the Iranian Shi’ite mullahocracy.
And right now, today, far from Iraq:
There are plenty more where those came from, Dinesh. No, don’t thank me. I’m happy to help.