Thu, Oct 20, 2005 - Page 9 News List

A federation of weakness bodes ill for the region

The introduction of a weak Iraqi federal constitution is likely to unleash an ethnic and sectarian crisis over a wider theater

By David Hirst  /  THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

In the next most vulnerable region, the Gulf, historically persecuted Shiite minorities (or majority in Bahrain), inspired by their co-religionists in Iraq, will press their claims for equality with new vigor.

But nervous Sunni regimes will be loath to cede too much, not least in Saudi Arabia where, like their terrorist alter ego in Iraq, the al-Qaeda boss Abdul Musab al-Zarqawi, the more hidebound of the Wahhabi religious hierarchy still regard Shiite Muslims as no better than heretics.

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