Sectarianism as a Factor Shaping Persian Gulf Security

AuthorWojciech Grabowski
Date01 January 2015
Published date01 January 2015
Subject MatterArticles
Sectarianism as a Factor
Shaping Persian Gulf
Wojciech Grabowski1
Sectarian tensions in the West Asia have exacerbated with a new power and
remain a vital factor influencing relations between Muslim states. In Persian Gulf,
sectarianism as a tool used by states comes from Muslim fragmentation into
Sunni and Shia branches and is expressed in a hostility towards the opposite
group. In reality, this hostility is usually exploited by authoritarian states to reach
their goals and interests at the expense of weak or failed states by meddling into
their affairs. At the domestic level of the Arab Persian Gulf states, sectarianism is
used to maintain domestic regime stability and control internal (Shia) opposition.
States are convincing their own societies that Shiite demands and unrests pose
a threat for the regime security so the state has a right and duty to undertake
sophisticated measures to ensure order.
The aim of the article is to show the different dimensions of sectarianism in
the Persian Gulf, both on an internal and external level. The article will show
how the mechanism of using sectarianism for the state purposes works.
Sectarianism, Persian Gulf, security, international relations, Islam, Saudi Arabia, Iran
Defining sectarianism is a challenge for scholars and for politicians alike. Both of
them see sectarianism in a different way. For the former, it is a term through which
they try to explain politicians’ behaviours, for the latter it is an instrument for
reaching their goals and interests. But one is unquestionable—the term sectarian-
ism has a negative connotation. It can be defined as a form of discrimination,
International Studies
52(1–4) 1–11
2017 Jawaharlal Nehru University
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0020881717715550
1 Institute of Political Science, University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland.
Corresponding author:
Wojciech Grabowski, Institute of Political Science, University of Gdańsk, Bażyńskiego st. 4, 80-309
Gdańsk, Poland.

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