The Changing Balance of Shiite and Sunni Influence in the Middle East and its Implications for Afghanistan and Pakistan

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Context
200_DSC00140Most conflicts arise from differences of perspectives as to how to view the world, which spring from historical contexts and interests, which in turn also frames threat perceptions. Power enables an international actor to impose its will and perspective on other actors, via coercion, the exercise of influence, diplomacy, or any combination of these. Power, of course, does not remain constant and most often it is assumed that there is a zero-sum dynamics involved. That is to say, one actor’s gain is another’s loss.  Historically, during periods of shifts in power dynamics, tremendous upheavals have taken place; such areas are the settings of potential future threats. Such disruptions of the balance of power are usually settled decisively by wars. For example, the present system of governance came out of World War II: the United States became the preeminent world power, succeeding Great Britain and the victorious powers subsequently established the United Nations and the Security Council, with its five permanent veto-holding members.

At present, we are now witnessing the emergence of new centers of power, located in various spheres of influence: for example, the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China). This has led to disturbances to the existing balance of power, resulting in realignments to counter budding threats in today’s global and interconnected world.PREMIUM CONTENT Subscribe now for full access.

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