Shia-phobia as Territorializing Discourse of "Western- Arabian Axis" in Geopolitical Crises of the Middle East; Case study: Syria

Document Type : Original Article


1 Associate Professor of Political Geography, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran

2 MA of Political Geography, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


While territorialization is a collective or an individual effort to apply an exclusive supervision on a clear part of a physical space, discourse of territorialization points out to make dominant discourse by people or group beyond a physical space. In fact, goal of making such discourse is to control space without applying a hard power. Occurred changes in the Middle East during recent decade have provided causes of power finding and consolidated and stabilized position of Shiites in the Middle East. This issue has affected and challenged interests of Arabian–western axis in this region severely. Since hard war has heavy effects and consequences, decision to produce discourses like Shia-phobia by Arabian-western axis seems more logical and reasonable. In short, goal of this paper is to state approach of anti–Shia discourse of Arabian-western axis in the Middle East in general and in particular to explain philosophy, causes and continuation of this discourse in frame of apposition with resistance axis in crisis of Syria.
The research is basic in terms of its goal, and casual and descriptive- analytic in terms of method and nature. Data gathering procedure is based on library findings.
Present power of Shiites in the Middle East is the most key reason to continue Shia-phobia in the Middle East. In fact, the opposition of power finding of Shiites (Arabian – western axis) try to highlight and conceptualize danger of hegemony of Shiites on the Middle East by conceptualization of Shia in frame of discourse of Shia-phobia. Their reasons for extending such discourse in the Middle East are changes of the Middle East during several recent decades in favor of Shiites. So, it is common that they use all their effort in frame of hard power and soft power (discourse extension) to prevent hegemony of Shiites (especially Iran) on Syria. Since, changes of the Middle East always have been affected by ideological conflicts (Shia – Sunni), these conflicts has formed two opponents groups in Arabian – western axis and Shia resistance axis. The first group includes Arab states, the US, Israel, Turkey, Qatar and opponents supported by them, and the second group includes Russia, Syrian government, Hezbollah, Iran and Iraq. Like most changes of the Middle East, war of Syria also became a bed to confront Arabian –western axis with resistance axis. Arabian –western fear from resistance axis can be understood by realistic point of view. The most important concern of the West is to secure energy resources in a region where about 70 % of its population is Shia and about 68 % of sources of energy are owned by Shiites. On one hand, the only strategic and trusted alliance of the West in the region Israel is sieged by resistance axis. This concern is understandable for Arabian axis, especially Saudi Arabia, because most of occurred revolutions in the Middle East has been supported by the public which on one hand brought changes caused more power – getting of Shiites and on the other hand, increased pressure on dictatorial regimes. Clearly, Arabian–western axis in a military action against Syria and resistance could not meet their desired goals. The most important reason of this failure is reliance of Syrian government on resistance axis. It is common that resorting to a flexible and soft way like producing a discourse (like Shia-phobia) is a desired and low–cost method than hard-war. Like many of conflicts of the Middle East Crisis of Syria can be explained in frame of discourse of Shia-phobia.
The Middle East has always been a bed of events. Events like collapse of Pahlavi Regime on Iranian, Iraq war against Iran, establishment of Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, Iraq attack to Kuwait, military presence of US in the region and Arabian countries, US attack to Iraq in 2003, discourse of large Middle East, plan of Shia crescent, magnification of nuclear activities of Iran, intensification of international sanctions against Iran, connection of problems of the region with problems of Palestine and Lebanon and Syria, crisis of Bahrain etc. all are evidences of several decades of conflict and complication in this region. In following complex changes of the Middle East, ideological problems have been and are most part of problems of this region, and religious (Shia – Sunni) confrontations have shaped a continuous form of enmity, competition and non –reconcilability between Muslim countries of the region with some of western governments and countries of the region. From this perspective,   during 4 decades (especially after Iranian revolution) power–getting of Shiites noticed a type of clear and hidden competitions from the given governments for Shia countries and Shia resistance, gradually. So, conceptualizations like reviving Shia, rise of Shia, axis of Shia, pan–Shiism, Shia internationality, Shia renaissance, Shia bloc, Shia emperorship and Shia awakening, etc. indicate to highlight Shia-phobia.