The strife in Iraq is more a result of modern power politics rather than ancient religious hatreds, according the Dickey Center Director Daniel Benjamin, writing in the Wall Street Journal.
"There is indeed plenty of bad blood between Sunnis and Shiites. But today's sectarian rifts in Iraq and the wider region are the result of calculated efforts over many years by modern states—above all, Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. Both countries have long jostled for regional dominance, and despite their bitter harvest, neither seems particularly willing to change," writes Benjamin.
He reviews the long history of relative commity between Sunnis and Shites, which was broken with the ascent of Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the US invasion of Iraq, and the region's recent desent into regional sectarianism. America cannot abandon the Middle East, says Benjamin, "But don't get your hopes up."
Read the entire article in the Wall Street Journal.