The Shia-Christian Alliance, Truths and Myths

Shia Saudi Arabia

In February the outspoken Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, warned Moscow against “siding with Shiites”, suggesting that Russia’s 20 million predominantly Sunni Muslims could cause an internal strife. The wording of this warning implied that Russia is in fact engaged in a religious war between Shia and Sunni Muslims, after it intervened on behalf of the Syrian government headed by Alawite president Bashar al-Assad.

Syria has been caught in an insurgency of mostly Sunni Islamist and Salafi militias, with large swaths of territory taken over by terrorists from the Islamic State in Iraq, Ahrar al-Sham, and Jabhat al-Nusra. Portraying the armed conflicts in the Middle East in sectarian terms brings about a dangerous precedent. It creates narratives and sets out discourses in wider audiences that sometimes out of laziness to research, but most of times out of deep-rooted indoctrination lead to a false understanding of political and social realities.

Indeed, as a self-fulfilling prophecy the end result might be an all-out sectarian war accompanied by terrorist acts. Al-Jubeir words also reflect an already existing conspiracy theory popular in jihadist circles. A myth of ‘evil Shia-Christian alliance’ whose aim is to subjugate the Sunnis in Syria, Iraq or Lebanon may have the beginnings in the Iraq War.

Nevertheless, the importance of cooperation between Christian and Shias stems from common minority status and the need to maintain ethnic and religious plurality in face of growing radicalism. This is not to say that Sunnis are “natural enemies” of Shias and Christians, because if we learned something from the modern history of the Middle East, it is that sectarian affiliation did not play a role in alliance formation.

The Saudis definitely did mind the support for the Shia Zaidi monarchy in Yemen, if it meant the defeat of the Nasserists. Nor was a Sunni-Shia schism an obstacle when Assad assisted Sunni militants in Iraq to undermine foreign occupation or when Libya’s Qaddafi threw support behind Shia Iran, rather than his Sunni Arab fellow Saddam Hussein. Why then, do actors of different sects or religions team up together? The answer lies in what could happen if they don’t.

During the sectarian violence that followed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi-Christians were caught in the crossfire. Having been accused by Sunni militants of siding with ‘crusaders from the West’ and having their churches blown up, more than half of the pre-war Iraqi-Christian population was forced into exile.

In Syria, the secular Baath regime’s history of opposing Islamist movements and embracing minorities, such as the Christians and Alawites, has quickly became a target of accusations of Sunni marginalization. This notion has become so mainstreamed into the Syrian opposition that it often attracts foreign militants with sectarian agendas and dreams to impose Sharia law. Once again, many scared Syrian Christians began to prefer the status quo with Assad in power.

After years of brutal war and what the Western media described as a “spillover”, a threat of militant Salafism quickly began appearing in Lebanon too. Lebanese Shia movement, Hezbollah, has increasingly tried to reach out to the country’s Christians in show of coexistence. After the civil war, Muslim-Christian alliances started to form out of political necessity, even though this was rather a rare occurrence beforehand.

A political division in Lebanon is no longer characterized by the Christian dominance over Muslims, but rather the Saudi-Iran rivalry. It must be noted though, that despite cultural efforts of Hezbollah, and even broadcasts reserved for Christian celebrations on Al-Manar (TV station run by  Hezbollah), Christians’ political orientation is far from one-sided. The Christians in Lebanon remain divided between the pro-Saudi March 14 alliance and the pro-Iran March 8 camp led by General Michel Aoun.

A similar trend of Shia-Christian rapprochement has been greatly demonstrated in Iraq after the Islamic State (ISIS) managed to capture several provinces. Semi-autonomous and mostly Shia militias have been placed under the common umbrella of the Hashd al-Shaabi. Al-Shaabi, Popular Mobilization Units, have provided training to the remaining Christians who formed their own militia ‘Syriac Sons’ Brigades’. Interestingly, both Shias and some Christians have been disillusioned by the Peshmerga ‘betrayal’ and believe that the Kurds intentionally allowed ISIS to capture Christian areas to which, after liberation, could claim exclusive rights.

Shia-Christian relations

Regardless of credibility of this theory, one can speculate whether the Shias and Christians would have ever tried to build such a partnership if it weren’t for the deranged sectarian ideology of ISIS. The Iraqi-Christian refugees welcomed by their Shia countrymen and posters depicting Jesus Christ along with Shia Imam Hussein, as two important martyrs and role models for Christian and Shia faiths respectively, have become a common sight.

Shia-Christian relations

Similarly, in annual pilgrimages to the holy city of Karbala, where millions Shia Muslims from across the world gather to commemorate of death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet’s grandson, special attention is given to Christian delegations. They are often standing with big crosses in the middle of the marching crowd. Such a scene would be unimaginable somewhere in Mecca, where Saudi Wahhabi interpretation of Islam forbids entry to non-Muslims.

For various reasons this kind of inter-faith solidarity with local Christians is indeed not so visible in case of the Sunnis, though it is clear that the overwhelming majority disagrees with ISIS ideologies and their brutal tactics against minorities. Still, Sunni militancy and terrorism strengthen efforts of the region’s minorities to work more closely together. It is in the interests of the Shias to keep the Christians as allies, while developing their own image as tolerant and peaceful Muslims.

No wonder it may seem like Russia currently prefers a Shia rule, as it presented itself as a protector of Christian minorities in the Tsarist era. Balancing against a threat appears to be an expected tactic for those who feel most threatened. However, if the region is to be a place of coexistence between Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and other minorities, any attempts to impose sectarian domination in the form of support, but also silent tolerance of groups like ISIS and al-Nusra, must be immediately rejected as an alternative.

Denisa Eštoková

Denisa Eštoková

Denisa Estokova holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from Charles University in Prague where she wrote the thesis about the Middle Eastern alliances. Her areas of specialization include the MENA geopolitics, Iran, Russian foreign policy in the Middle East and the role of Islam in politics. She speaks English, Slovak, Czech, Russian and has also studied the German and Arabic language.

  1. Christian-Shia alliance is 1,400 year old and counting. It will only become stronger with Globalzation and Free Trade.

    Can a Christian tell a Shia from a Sunni? Here is a primer.

    I. The Eternal Debate – Guns or Butter

    Islam’s original political cleavage of Fatimite (now Shia, Alevi, Ismali) and Umarite (now Sunni, Wahabbi) is same as anywhere. In Athens Republic vs Democracy, or Democrats/Republicans in US (even if US Parties switched roles in 1920s), or Liberal/Tory in UK/Canada. Of 1.6+ Billion Muslims over 1.2B+ are Umarites, 250-400M Fatimites.

    Social-Contract governance is either by a handful (Monarchy, Oligarchy, Aristocracy) or has a bit wider base (Democracy, Republic). Of the latter, Democracy is rule of Demos, the 5% moneyed males over 95% rest (women, plebs, helots, slaves). Masses serve Demos that perpetuates itself with Laws to control the weak with coercive peace. It works for stratified societies (Class minded UK and Canada, caste India) – no social mobility and a loose centre. Modern Primal Document is 1215 Magna Carta defining Rights of landed Aristocracy vs the monarch.

    Against this godless waste of the Demos, Socrates offered the more efficient Republic, egalitarian rule of Public led by morally upright god-fearing learned men – a govt of the People, by the People, for the People, for justice (giving each his due), for natural, divine Laws e.g. “All men are created Equal …”. It suits socially mobile egalitarians (France, PRC, USSR/Russia, USA) and a strong centre. Stress is on Individual Rights and Freedom. Modern Primal documents are “Bill of Rights”.

    The public will can be reflected at the top via appointment, acclamation, selection. Elections are germane to neither Democracy or Republic, as each can exist with or without them. If held, Republic is proportional representation and perpetual vigilance, in Democracy winner takes all.

    II. Socrates, Mohammed

    Reformist Socrates in the trading centre of Athens faced an exploitative Demos – big business, bankers, traders. 1000 years later Mohammed, a small businessman in trading Arabia faced the same – Big Business Umayyads, Bankers Banu Abbas, Trade Monopolists infidels, and Tribe of Judah.

    While Democracy hemlocked Socrates, Mohammed remains the only one to defeat his Demos with a superior socio-economic package, and set up a secular Republic a la Socrates with rights for all. His constitution was the “Covenant of Medina”, a negotiated document between the Tribes of Aws, the Khazraj, and yehud with rights for all. The Koran tells how he did it.

    Mohammed could not have won against capitalism without timely material help from trading Christians of south Arabia and east Africa. Admits the Koran:

    [5:82] … and worst among men in enmity to the Believers thou shalt find the infidel and the yehud (Judahists), and nearest in love to the Believers are those who say “we are Nazarenes (Christians) …

    After Mohammed his core group split politically in 2.

    A: pro-Christian learned, the vast Medinan majority wanting to continue Mohammed’s secular Socratic Republic – pro-woman, pro-progress, pro-peace, helping poor and weak, led by his daughter Fatima.

    B: Anti-Christian moneyed, the miniscule Meccan male minority Demos wanting theocratic Kaliphate – anti-Woman, anti-poor, anti-progress, anti-peace, for conquest and colonialism, neocons led by his companion Umar, who won with strong arm tactics.

    Fatima died/was murdered within 70 days, and her mantle was taken up by her husband Ali, also Mohammed’s cousin. Her fiery sermons in Kaliphate court are important source of Islamic and Feminist papers. Umar appointed a weakling Kaliph Abu Bakr who died after 2 years leaving the field open to mold Islam in his image.

    The Kaliphate undid all Mohammedan reforms. The central pillar of universality was first to go when Arabs were made superior to others. Next victim was peace when Kaliphate sword went far and wide, then women’s rights, then justice, then meritocracy, then free trade.

    III. Post-Mohammedan Islam

    Mohammed was a free trader. In fact all his battles with Meccans were about freeing trade monopoly. The anti-Koranic anti-Mohammedan Umarites renewed trade control and introduced Tariffs (Arabic word of Kaliphate origin).

    Europe as a continent, cold, northern, sunless, is evolutionally food-poor, needing trade to survive, The Kaliphate sitting in the middle of Silk Road milked it. A 10% goods and services duty “ushr” was immediately imposed on practically everything that was Christian and moved. This Umar Tax lives as Mr. TenPercentism in Sunni lands to this day. Unearned other people’s money rather than sweat of one’s brow discouraged innovation, thus a lacklustre Umarite civilization that divided humanity by creating globe’s first trading block.

    Crusades, a valiant attempt to free East-West trade failed. There were 100 famines in Europe in 100 years around 1,300 AD. Weakened population fell victim to plague. Kaliphate starved Christians to half their numbers. The Umarites terrorized Christians throughout their history, and continue to do so.

    In 1453 Constantinople fell to Umarite Turks, who then also grabbed the best arable lands in Europe. So much wealth made trade and tariffs needless and spurious. Desperate starving Europe had to find new routes to Asia and got new lands as bonus, ending Umarite monopoly of living off others thus marginalizing them. In the process Christians destroyed 3 Sunni Empires: Spain, Ottoman, Mughal (and rubbed salt in Sunni wounds by creating Israel amongst them). Sunnis blame that Shia helped the Christians (they did, as they today share power in Lebanon). Umarites have “scores to settle” with both Shia and Christians.

    Today’s Sunni jihadists backed by Saudi Arabia wish to avenge the loss and revive the Kaliphate, control trade anew, and live off others again. Today’s Sunni tools are Sunni refugees. Islamists today fight not in name of Mohammed but Umar Farooq al Khattab who has emerged as the patron saint of jihadi terror. Mulla Umar, Sheikh Umar, Khattab in Chechnya, Umarov in Dagestan, Farooq Training Camps …

    Now as Daesh Umarite Kaliphate raises its ugly head only a Christian-Fatimite alliance can defeat it. Enter Russia and Iran.

    IV. Shia-Christian Alliance

    While Umarites slugged it out with Christians for 1,400 years, the Fatimites, following Koranic advice have kept up alliance with Christians, even during Crusades, never having a battle between them.

    The Kaliphate terrorizing Christians and Fatimites forced them into a close alliance so much so that their theologies coalesced to almost carbon copies of each other. Today, with emphasis on Love and Family values, both eagerly and jointly await the return of Jesus and the Second Coming together.

    Shiaism and Catholicism are theological sisters:

    1. Martyrdom of founder (Jesus, Hussein)
    2. Divinity of prophet (Jesus, Mohammed)
    3. Vicarious Atonement and Salvation
    4. Primacy of Love as axis
    5. Primacy of Family (Jesus, Mohammed)
    6. Elevated status of women (Mary, Fatima)
    7. Established Church, clergy, hierarchy (cardinals, bishops, priests) & Ayatollahs
    8. 12 Apostles of Christ, 12 Shia Imams
    9. Living Guide and Awaited Messaiah, Jesus and Mohammed the Mahdi
    10. Acceptance of Musicality in liturgy
    11. Sainthood

    The list goes on. Mainstream Islam rejects all above.

    Today, academics have recognized this congruence. There are joint conferences in Europe, Catholic priest Father McDade being the most active. Although non-Muslims are forbidden to visit Mecca, the Vatican sends annual delegation to Shia Karbala at Ashoura where 25 million participate (cf. only .5 millions, or 10 times less at Hajj).

    V. Russia, Iran

    In the 1930s Toynbee identified 5 living Civilizations:
    1. Hellenized West
    2. Christian Russia
    3. Islam (Syriac, Iranic)
    4. Indics
    5. Sinics

    Even at height of godless Communism, Toynbee asserted quite rightly that Russia was the only Christian country left on the globe, and that the West was Christian no more. Events have proved him right. While even Papacy languishes in the West, Orthodox Church has asserted itself again and become its monopolistic State Religion as it has no sects.

    Like Christians and Shia, Russia and Iran share psychic similarities:
    1. Two of few places present religion did not spread by sword
    2. Rulers adopted new religion at the end of its millennium. Vladimir 982 AD, Shah Ismail 950 AH
    3. Mirror theologies – Orthodox/Shia (carbon copies), headed by clergy of a single faith/sect
    4. Historic common enemy (Turkey), common friend (India)
    5. Complement – Iran lacks water, Russia sun.
    6. Russia’s army is already 50% Muslim
    7. Iran’s faith is trading, while Russian is agrarian
    8. Neighbours, cooperating in defense and industry

    This alliance has material basis.

    VI. System’s Theory. Socio-Economic Basis

    System’s Theory is the West’s answer to holistic view – unity of Creation. ST attempts to study the totality, rather than the parts.

    A System is a set of inter-related components working together towards a goal. It has Objects, a Structure, Attributes, Relationships. It is measured in Efficiency, Optimality. Philosophers ponder whether a System has a soul.

    A System is embedded in a larger environment where it competes against other systems. Its aim is Survival, Growth, Evolution. When Environment changes, a System must align itself with it by changing internally in a “Civil War”.

    In life, the Primal Question of Existence is Survival, Growth, Evolution. Religions as socio-economic systems most efficiently answer to it, as rituals help bind people of similar economic outlook.

    Religions are tied to economy. For the 3 stages of economic development, examples are Pastoral (Judahism), Agrarian (Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity), Trade (Hellenism, Islam, Capitalism, Socialism).

    A religion has the following traits.
    1. A natural economic environment
    2. An optimal unit building block
    3. A Planning Horizon
    4. An central idea as the Axis
    5. An investment source strategy
    6. An output distribution formula

    Throughout history two value systems have competed with each other, Socratic and Abrahamic. The first is descriptive, analytical, the latter is prescriptive, evolutional and gives rise to “Natural” religions that are most optimal and efficient. It engendered 3 Islams for the 3 economic stages – Islam of Moses for the Pastoral Economy, Islam of Jesus for the Agrarian, Islam of Mohammed for the Trading Era that we are in today. Moses was a shepherd, Jesus an artisan in Fertile Crescent, Mohammed AS a businessman trader. They were the Chief Economists for their eras.

    The laws of Mohammedan Islam were conceived optimally for the soil-poor, water-poor, resource-poor economy of scarcity of Arabia. Its unit is the Individual, planning horizon as the business cycle, and distribution based on Justice – give each his due, essentially the same as what Socrates (not Aristotle) preached but failed to convince the Athenian Demos of.

    Today, with Globalization and Free Trade, the world is becoming Arabia 7th century writ large; resource poor, land poor, and trade. So Islam is popular again. While churches empty, mosques fill to capacity worldwide. The disarray among Big Business, Bankers, trade monopolists and Yehud is that Islam using Mohammedan strategy and tactics will do an Encore.

    The basis of Christian/Shia cooperation is socio-economic. While Umarites are tribal and anti-trade, Fatimites have always been free enterprising, free traders. The Sunnis controlled the Silk Road with tariffs. Crusades to free trade failed (Fatimites sided with Christians).

    Today again, two world vision compete. Against divisive trading block oriented capitalist TTP/TTIP/WB/IMF a global New Silk Road/OBOR/AIIB gains life and links Asia, Africa, and Europe together. A look at the map shows that Russia and Iran are indispensable links and cannot be bypassed. Russia and Iran are natural allies as socialists in Russia, China, and elsewhere realize that without Mohammedan Islam they cannot defeat Corporate Capitalism. They must cooperate or else.

    The objectives of Russia, China, Iran and the Shia are the same. They all oppose Corporate Capitalism

    The profligate, wasteful, failing Corporate Capitalist West offers:
    1. No responsibility or limited responsibility godless culture
    2. Large Corporate controlled Enterprise
    3. Knowledge as a Private good
    4. Top-down polity
    5. Law and Order Democracy and Lawyerism
    6. Positive interest regime
    7. Income/spending/import taxation
    8. Control of movement in goods, money, and people

    Every one of these is anti-progress, anti-production, only for private profit for the few. Taxing incomes, spending, imports is no good for consumers or small and medium business alike. Not taxing assets encourages accumulation and hoarding, ties up resources needlessly.

    As Socrates 1000 years before him, Mohammed offered more efficient Koranic prescription:
    1. Personally Responsible Individualist Moral God-fearing culture
    2. Free Enterprise
    3. Knowledge as a public good
    4. Bottom Up Polity
    5. Justice minded Republic
    6. Zero interest regime
    7. Asset taxation
    8. Borderless world

    VII. Necessity of worker-peasant, Shia/Christian alliance

    Socrates failed in the trading centre of Athens against Big Business, Bankers, and trade monopolists. Mohammed failed in the trading city Mecca against his Demos. Marx failed in Paris 1848 to mobilize the proletariat.

    When Mohammed moved to soil-rich, water-rich oasis of Medina his bands of emigrants succeeded handsomely. There he brought workers and peasants together. Lenin repeated the feat in Russia, then Mao in China who forced an alliance of city and country. Had Socrates sought help of agrarian Sparta he would have triumphed too.

    The lesson from all above is that for a successful revolution against capitalism one must combine workers with peasants. Either alone cannot achieve much. Therefore, Islam and Christianity will have to join hands to defeat Corporate Capitalism today.

    Author bio.
    Aerospace Engineer, Businessman. Have lived and worked on 4 continents.
    Past Professor of Business Administration
    Past Professor of Engineering
    Community service 40 years

  2. Pure bullshit denial of what’s really happening. shiites and kkkrusaders along with zionist jews are undeniably working together to wipe out the Sunni Muslims of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq.

    1. Victor, thank you very much for your comment and for taking interest in Middle East Collective’s diverse submissions. We have a lot of great collaborations in store for 2017, so please be sure to stay tuned! Also, if you are ever interested in contributing to our initiative, please feel free to get in touch with us.

  3. Why does the author not write about the true reasons as for the situation in the Middle East, that being the creation of a Greater Israel at the expense of Muslims, Christians and others so that the zionists can create their New World Order ? Is the authors knowledge very limited or are they afraid of writing the truth ?

    1. Dear Ruslan Kalinov

      The turmoil is the Middle East is not a by-product. It is by design. Sunni-Jewish conflict in fact has promoted world peace.

      Israel was created not at the expense of Sunnis alone, but also the Jews. Jewish-Sunni enmity is only 100 year old. For 1,300 years the two lived cheek by jowl united against Christians (and the Shia). Every Sunni Kaliph had a Jewish advisor – Saladin had Maimonides. Sunni-Jewish theologies coalesced such that Christians could no longer tell them apart. Was Maimonides Jew or Sunni or both?

      Sitting smack in the middle of the Silk Road, the two, Jewish finance and Sunni muscle, controlled world trade in a fun alliance to easy life of languid pleasure for the few at the top. Sunnis lived on Tariffs (an Arabic word of Kaliphate origin).

      For 1,000 years the two, Sunnis and Jews, prevented Christian access to Asia in west and in the east, until the Catholics kicked them both out of Spain and Europeans found new routes to Asia.

      Christians liked neither Jews nor Sunnis (but the latter did not live among them until recently). Magna Carta has 3 clauses limiting the activities of the Tribe of Judah. But later while Catholics sought to rid the Jews in situ, Protestants’ Armageddon wants them to gather in one place and then finalsolution them. Among the Protestants, hatred of Jews lives side by side by their virulent support for Israel, the dumping ground.

      Tired of 1,300 year Sunni-Jewish terror, English Protestants’ silver bullet – divide and rule ruse – create competing land claims in a soil-poor, water-poor, resource-poor land, then help them fight each other to finish. Look ma no Jewish blood on my hands.

      The 20 million Jews of then had a total IQ of a stone not to have seen through the conniving English royally sell them a Brooklyn Bridge – land that belonged to someone else. Only a brain of mud can think of getting away with stolen goods when the victim is gaining strength by the hour. Lament for the Tribe of Judah – tactical brilliance exceeded by its blindness in strategy – for 4,000 years and counting.

      The Zionists are merely the useful idiots. Their quest for Greater Israel is just what Balfour wished for to inflame the Sunnis. Balfour’s aims did not differ much from Hitler’s – to rid Europe of Jews, only his means did. He knew that sooner or later the 100 times more Sunnis will finish off the Jews. In the meantime Balfour did a service to humanity by breaking the 1300-year old Sunni-Jewish cartel. He was right – since the creation of Israel there has been no war among Christians. Indeed Israel has been a blessing to mankind, at least to earlier war-torn Europe. As far as Protestants are concerned, both Sunnis and Jews be damned.

  4. Nice piece of propaganda. In fact there is a shia-christian alliance, more precisely an imperialist alliance that has the goal of giving minorities a privileged state in the Middle East, and if’s based on islamophobia and the misconception that Sunnis are inferior human beings with no right to self determination.

    This shia-christian alliance is deceitful, it is based on denialism and it often tries to hide between third actors. For instance, the same Iraqi shia-christian militias that acted as trojan horses of America in order to overthrow Saddam (the Sunni dictator) are now allied in Syria in order to save Assad (the shia dictator). They may try to trick us, they may think that we Sunnis are stupid and that we don’t understand that they side with anyone (either with America or with Russia) in order to fight their crusade against Sunnis, they may try to depict is as an “America vs Syria” question, but we are not stupid and we don’t fall for their dirty tricks. We can see that the same who complain against “American imperialism” (translation: they’re complaining against the Syrian revolution) are supporterd of pro-USA forces such as YPG, Iraqi shia militias and Sisi. They think that we are stupid and we don’t see that.

    This shia-christian alliance has caused more than 2 million deaths, they murdered 2 million Sunnis in Iraq and Syria. It’s worse than terrorism, it’s state terrorism, plain and simple. Much worse than ISIS, but they think that we are stupid, they think that they can keep butchering Sunnis under our eyes, that we don’t see. They use conventional methods and instead of wearing suicide belts they blow up, gas, torture, rape millions of Sunnis and they think that they are going to get away with that.

    But at the end of the day who created Israel? who invaded Iraq? who bombed Syria? who destroyed Chechnya? the conclusion is that the white man is a burden on the shoulders of Muslims,, and that we don’t side with anyone. Not America neither Russia, take your planes and f*ck off, we don’t want you.

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