Misreading the Sunni-Shia Divide

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The deepening crisis in Lebanon initially generated a flurry of commentary claiming that Israel had become engaged in a conflict against Shia Islamist radicalism, and that its intent to defeat (Iran-backed) Hezbollah had the full support of the Sunni Arab world. The initial criticism of Hezbollah by the Sunni Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan fueled this analysis, and one op-ed piece from a U.S. newspaper published a week after hostilities broke out was titled “Iran against the Arabs.” Furthermore, an advisor to Israel’s defense minister recently said: “We are finally going to fight Hezbollah on the ground. […]

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