The botched hanging of Saddam Hussein and two lieutenants in Iraq by its Shiite-led government has helped to accelerate Sunni-Shiite sectarianism across an already fragile Middle East, according to experts across the region.
The chaotic executions and the calm with which Mr. Hussein confronted the gallows and mocking Shiite guards have bolstered his image among many of his fellow Sunni Muslims.
But something else is happening too: a pan-Muslim unity that surged after the summer war between Israel and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia, is waning.
And while political analysts and government officials in the region say the spreading Sunni disillusionment with Shiites and their backers in Iran will benefit Sunni-led governments and the United States, they and others worry that the tensions could start to balkanize the region as they have in Iraq itself.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
NYT News Analysis - Hangings Fuel Sectarian Split Across Mideast