“‘Defending the Faith’ in the Middle East” – NYTimes.com

In a New York Times article David Motadel examines the role of religious protectorates past and present to help shed light on current events in the Middle East.  Several powers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries declared themselves protectorates of coreligionists in other states. For example, Russia declared itself the protector of Orthodox Christians within Ottoman territories and then used this as leverage to intervene in Ottoman affairs. As Motadel points out this type of “politics of religion…subverted states, fueled divisions within them — and often ended in violence.”

Currently in the Middle East it is Iran and Saudi Arabia who are engaging in the politics of religion. Motadel argues that “Iran’s attempts to become the global defender of Shiite Muslims and Saudi Arabia’s efforts to lead the Sunnis have become central in their battle for mastery of the Middle East, transforming the region’s international system from an order of states to an order of faiths.” And just as in the past this political maneuvering is destabilizing the region and fueling the violence. Obviously the causes of instability in the region are many, but I think Motadel has indicated an important contributor to the current unrest.  Read the entire article here:

‘Defending the Faith’ in the Middle East – NYTimes.com.

"An anonymous painting of Turkish Emperor Mahmud II leading his troops. Credit Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images "

“An anonymous painting of Turkish Emperor Mahmud II leading his troops. Credit Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images “

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