Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Persian Gulf new center for the world's power struggle

Should the Palestinian-Israeli conflict take a back seat to a focus on the power balance in the Sunni-Shia conflict?

That was one of the most provocative questions raised this morning at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s annual seminar in Key West where about two dozen media and think-tankers have gathered for seminars today and Tuesday.

Vali Nasr, an adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, made the startling-to-many assertion that the Persian Gulf is the new center of the world’s critical power struggle and that the Levant (the Middle-Eastern, Arab-based region) is a surrogate for the larger battle.

He sees in the post-Saddam, post Iraq-invasion world a “palpable, significant and irreversible shift” in the balance of power toward the rise of the Shia, a sect centered in Persian Iran that was once “invisible to us.”


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