The Muslim World Is Not Flat

by Arang Keshavarzian
published in MER242

This 1995 CIA map, often used in the media and in classrooms, reminds us that today Shi‘i Muslims are concentrated in only a few nation-states—Iran, Iraq, the Arab Gulf states, Azerbaijan and Lebanon in the Middle East, and Afghanistan, Pakistan and India in South Asia. There are also numerous ‘Alawis in Syria, Alevis in Turkey and Zaydi Shi‘a in Yemen. The vast majority of Muslims in the world, approximately 90 percent, are Sunni.

The Iraq Effect in Saudi Arabia

by Toby Jones
published in MER237

Shi‘is in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have watched Iraq’s political transformation with a combination of horror and optimism. Iraq’s slide toward civil war, the carnage wrought by militant violence and the targeted slaughter of thousands of Iraqi Shi‘is by Sunni insurgents have sown fears among Shi‘a in the kingdom that they might be the next to suffer bloodshed. Their worries are not unwarranted. They live in a sea of sectarian hostility, where the Sunni government and its clerical backers have long made clear their antipathy for the Muslim minority sect.