The Sunni-Shia Conflict
Understanding Sectarian Violence in the Middle East

Nathan Gonzalez


The battles within Islam are not rooted in theology, but in timeless geopolitical struggles.

While most Sunni and Shia Muslims around the world seek religious coexistence, vacuums of power, such as those found during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) and in post-war Iraq, have forced believers to retreat into their respective ethnic, sectarian, tribal and political camps. It is exactly during such times of crisis that regional leaders can exploit sectarian identities and force civil strife upon an entire country. Today, with the rise of a pro-Iranian government in Iraq, the Middle East  finds itself once again in the midst of a regional power struggle: one between Iranian-allied Shias and the Sunni-Arab governments that privately work to suppress them.

Moving beyond tired descriptions of the Middle East as an exotic land of ideological purists, Nathan Gonzalez provides a realist account of the history of the Sunni-Shia conflict—a schism of tribal and political interests that threatens to escalate into a regional war.

ISBN: 978-0-9842252-0-0
$22.95 | 200 pp. | Hardcover

Praise for The Sunni-Shia Conflict

“Nathan Gonzalez has written the first general, accessible account of the conflict within the ‘House of Islam’ and its continuing impact on the politics of the region. Covering a vast panorama with lucidity and flair, The Sunni-Shia Conflict is a powerful and persuasive book. It should be obligatory reading for every policymaker caught up in the current maelstrom in the Middle East.” —Anthony Pagden, author of Worlds at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle between East and West

“It is difficult to find fault with the substance or the driving force of Nathan Gonzalez’s exceptional volume, which merits a place on the desk of anyone who wonders why and how Sunni-Shia relations in Iraq have culminated in open warfare.” —Jalil Roshandel, Director of Security Studies, East Carolina University

About the author

Nathan Gonzalez

Nathan Gonzalez

Nathan Gonzalez is a Fellow with the Truman National Security Project, a lecturer of international studies and Middle Eastern politics at California State University, Long Beach, and founder of Nortia Press. A frequent radio and web commentator, Nathan holds a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University in New York, and is author of Engaging Iran (Praeger, 2007).