Mideast Powder Keg By Hal Lindsey

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The Middle East has long been a powder keg, and right now that powder keg is inhabited by people with flaming torches.  In the last week, hostility in the region reached new levels.  But this time the rage is not against Israel.  It is Muslim versus Muslim; Sunni versus Shiite.  The possibility of war between them, casts a pall over the entire planet.

Sunni and Shiite Muslims have been at each other’s throats since Muhammad died in the year 632 AD.  85 to 90% of the world’s Muslims are Sunni.  By that you would think Shiites are a marginal minority.  But radical Shiites run Iran, a nation that has grown significantly more powerful since the nuclear deal it concluded with the United States and five other world powers last summer.

One rarely discussed side-effect of the Iran nuclear deal has been an exacerbation of the volatile relationship between Sunnis and Shiites.  After the agreement, both factions ratcheted up the belligerence.  Sunni-led Saudi Arabia did everything it could to crash world oil prices just as Iran prepared to re-enter the global market again after years of sanctions.  Saudis and Iranians have been fighting through proxies in several countries, including Syria, and have fought directly in Yemen.

Tensions rose to a whole new level late last week when Saudi Arabia executed Nimr Baqr al-Nimr a Shiite cleric, along with 47 other prisoners.  After Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran.  The Saudis also suspended airline flights between the two nations.

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