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JSPES, Vol. 30, No. 2 (Summer 2005 )

The United States and Shiite Islam:
Retrospect and Prospect

Gawdat Bahgat

Following the toppling of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni-Arab leader, the United States has facilitated the rise to power of the Shiites in Iraq. This significant development raises questions regarding Washington's relations with the two dominant Islamic sects, Sunni and Shiite. The author examines American-Shiite relations in three settings: Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon. It argues that sectarianism does not drive U.S. policy in the Islamic world and that despite signs of rapprochement between the United States and the Shiites, the two sides still have long way to go before they can reach an understanding.

Key Words: Sunni; Shiite; Iran; Iraq; Lebanon; Israel; U.S.-Arab relations; Hizbollah; Al-Quade.