An important backdrop to the militant American foreign policy of recent years is the fear that also pervades many Arab capitals of a rising “Shi’a Crescent” across the Middle East, which refers to the rise in militant power of Shi’ites across the region. Shi’ites represent about 12% of the Muslim population worldwide, as opposed to Sunnis who are the vast majority. King Abdullah of Jordan gave a grim warning of this rise on December 8, 2004 in anticipation of the Iraqi elections.
But Dr. Moshe Maoz, Israel’s most senior expert on Syria and Iran, and also passionately committed to peace, has exposed this fear as oversimplified and misplaced, in an important study for the Saban Center. What appears as a rising crescent of the moon is actually more like crumb cake. There are separate and isolated movements across the region of Shi’ites asserting their presence, their rights and their power. …