Red Line Limits for Sunni and Shia Sectarian Violence
Muslim sectarian violence may be approaching a red line threshold moving away from localized extreme sectarianism eroding national stabilities—like that of Syria and Iraq—to regional sectarian strife. The most frightening scenario is the unrestrained complete jihad between the two sects of Islam which would cross state boundaries, utterly destroy the Middle East, destabilize Central Asia and disrupt the world.
A larger development is likely to happen under the following:
1) A continued gradual intra-state violence and mistreatment of one or the other Islamic sect will set off a larger regional sectarian struggle (Current Context)
2) Interstate rivalry and influence stirring the religious communities that gradually polarizes the two and pitches them against each other (Potential development)
3) The highest religious leaders and icons issue a fatwa or calls for sectarian jihad (Potential Development)
4) A crisis situation could become so unbearable for one or both sects that they blame each other for the failures (Potential Development)
All things being equal, there is a clear worsening of relations between the two Islamic sects in the region that has led to two recent civil wars, local uprisings, abuse, targeted terrorism, and proxy power attempts. There is a future boiling point for the current contextual frame and any of the above triggers could start a larger transnational sectarian jihad—one that is either backed by states, religious leaders, dissidents, or all of the above. It is the Shia that have the most to lose but each conflict within the states is increasingly connected to the regional impact of their faiths.