"Sectarian genie is out of the bottle from Syria to Iraq."

Reuters: “As jihadists storm through the Sunni heartlands of Iraq towards Baghdad, where a Shi’ite government they regard as heretic clings on, they have lifted the veil on deep sectarianism which has also stoked the fires of Syria’s civil war and is spilling over into vulnerable mosaic societies such as Lebanon.”
“The sectarian genie is now well out of the bottle, eclipsing traditional inter-state rivalries that plague the Middle East – even if these still play a part in the drama.
The 1979 Islamic Revolution brought a Shi’ite theocracy to power in non-Arab Iran, giving a sectarian edge to the long-standing, state-to-state contest for influence in the Gulf between Iran and Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy underpinned by the fundamentalist tenets of Sunni Wahhabi doctrine.
And the 2003 US invasion shattered Iraq into ethno-sectarian fragments, giving the majority Shi’ites the whip-hand over the Sunni minority and overturning a century-old balance of power.
Now the Syrian conflict pitting a government whose core is President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawites, a minority sect descended from Shi’ism, in an all-out war against rebels made up mainly from the Sunni majority, has lured jihadi volunteers to create an almost seamless sectarian battlefield from Baghdad to Beirut.
….Glimpses of the savagery of this sectarianism have multiplied as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al Qaeda splinter group which controls parts of war-torn Syria, captured a string of north and central Iraqi cities in June. On Sunday, it declared a state in areas under its control and its leader caliph of Muslims throughout the world.
….The Shi’ite side has responded in kind, posting videos of Sunnis being executed. In one, groups of men shot randomly, some in the head, lie next to each other in what appears to be a room with blood splashed on the wall and bullet holes everywhere.
….While enmity between Islam’s two competing sects has often been fierce and bloody, it now spreads over huge swathes of territory from the eastern Mediterranean to Iraq, the Gulf and Yemen.    “It is neither solely religious nor purely political; the two mix and feed upon each other, with personal interests and geopolitical confrontations pouring petrol on the flames,” said Tarek Osman, author of the “Perilous Scenario in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
….The Jihadist coalition under ISIL, experts say, will eventually fragment because of internal disputes over sharing money, territory and power.
They believe ISIL insurgents will overreach themselves by alienating tribes, more pragmatic Sunni groups, former officers from Saddam’s era and ordinary Iraqis as they did in 2005-2008 under al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, when Iraqis revolted against its ultra-hardline Islamist agenda.
….Many predict the fighting will go on until all sects – from Syria to Iraq – Shi’ites, Sunnis, Kurds and Alawites carve up their own fiefdoms even if they stay within the same international borders.
The clearest emerging enclave is the northern Kurdish autonomous region, which has been more than 20 years in the making and which experts say could be permanent.”