Sunni and Shi’i: Muslims worldwide are split into two broad categories: Sunni and Shi’i. Approximately 85-90% of Muslims are Sunnis and the other 10-15% Shi’is. Iran, for example, is almost entirely Shi’i. Iraq is the only Arab country of any in which a majority (60%) of the population is Shi’i.
The difference between Sunnism and Shi’ism relevant today is that Shi’ism rests on a potentially powerful, clerical hierarchy, whereas Sunnism has no formal clerical hierarchy and in practice is somewhat devolved.
Demographics of Iraq: Sunni Arabs are concentrated in the north, and Shi’i Arabs in the south. Kurds (Sunni) predominate in the mountains of the northeast and speak a language which is akin to Persian. It’s important to say, however, that most areas are to some extent mixed and not necessarily segregated.
Sykes-Picot: We are told that ISIS, in gaining control of territory on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, is obliterating ‘Sykes-Picot’. This is reference to the borders of today which approximate those established in a secret agreement between Britain and France during the First World War.
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