Saturday, August 30, 2014

Brutal Rise of Islamic State Turns Old Enemies Into New Friends

Nations Long at Loggerheads, Such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, Find Common Ground in Bid to Curb Extremists

By Gerald F. Seib and Bill Spindle, WSJ
Aug. 29, 2014 7:41 p.m. ET

In the brutal calculation of Middle East politics, the baseline for friendship has always been simple: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

By that standard, the Islamic State extremist group is creating friendships aplenty. An odd set of bedfellows or potential bedfellows, transcending geographical, ideological and alliance bounds, is emerging from the ranks of those threatened by what many see as the most dangerous militant movement in a generation.

Fear over the spread of Islamic State means parties often at odds now share a common enemy.

Shiite Muslim Iran and Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, for instance, have been bitter foes since at least 1979, when the Iranian revolutionary government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini hoped to inspire similar revolutions in the Sunni world. But both countries now fear Islamic State's armed radical Islamist movement, which seeks to usurp their own claimed leadership of the Muslim world.

That led Iran and Saudi Arabia to independently back the same candidate to lead Iraq, in a push for a new government that might unite Sunnis and Shiites to battle Islamic State. This week, Iranian and Saudi diplomats held a rare meeting to consult.

(More here.)

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