Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Samuel Helfont: More on the Sunni Divide

Some readers will recall a blog entry of nearly one month ago posted on Samuel Helfont's article for the Foreign Policy Research Institute's E-Notes, "Politics, Terrorism, and the Sunni Divide." If the article interested you, then a longer version in monograph at 74 pages will likely interest you even more:
The Sunni Divide: Understanding Politics and Terrorism in the Arab Middle East
Mr. Helfont is a doctoral student in Princeton University's Near Eastern Studies Department -- hence the logo above even though the monograph comes by way of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), where he is an Adjunct Scholar.

I have not yet had time to read Helfont's monograph, for he -- having noticed my blog post on his FPRI article -- sent me the link only yesterday, but it looks interesting and informative.

Helfont's counterintuitive argument is that the Shia-Sunni divide is not the truly significant one. Rather, a divide internal to the Sunnis is far more significant, the divide between Wahabism and the Muslim Brotherhood.

I'm particularly interested in reading the monograph because I need something explained to me, as noted in my previous post on Helfont:
One problem with Helfont's analysis, however, is that it does not very well account for the rise of Al Qaeda, which combines aspects of both types of Islamism -- as Helfont notes -- for given the stark distinction drawn between the two, one wouldn't expect to find such a combination.
Perhaps I'll find the explanation when I get into the monograph, and if so, I'll report back, but meanwhile, readers can see for themselves what Mr. Helfont has to say.

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