This is an excellent book and an important piece of scholarship. Frederic M. Wehrey has written a compelling, thoughtful, and original analysis of the new politics of sectarianism in the Persian Gulf since 2003. He is well positioned to write such a book, having traveled extensively in the region and spent considerable time with the most important political figures in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. His tone is commanding, the research is impressive, and the result is timely and vital. Wehrey's book is the best study I have seen yet of these pressing matters.
—Toby Jones, Rutgers University
Sectarian Politics in the Gulf represents the most up-to-date and insightful study on the politics of sectarianism in three key Gulf countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. Far from being an intrinsic or innate feature of these societies, Prof. Wehrey shows in careful detail how sectarianism is invoked, produced and instrumentalized, and for very specific goals by governments, clerics as well as members of the Shii opposition. The book's argument situates sectarianism within local and regional political dynamics and contexts, and through this underscores that as a political phenomenon sectarianism cannot be apprehended by historically-rooted religious hatred. Based on a careful reading of primary sources and extensive fieldwork in the region, including in-depth interviews with many of the key activists, this book provides the most comprehensive and readable account of religious politics in the Gulf today.
—Bernard Haykel, Princeton University
Wehrey has written a finely grained, insightful, and carefully researched contemporary study of Sectarian Politics in the Gulf. He offers insights on the broader Arab world and reveals that sectarian identity is no artificial construct but a culturally embedded and historically honed aspect of self. Yet he also demonstrates that sectarianism has been wielded cynically by both powerful rulers (Saudi Arabia) and insecure, easily manipulated monarchs (as in Bahrain) to foment division and divert legitimate accusations of injustice, discrimination, and opprobrious violations of basic human rights. This is the best book on the topic and a must read for policy makers.
—Augustus Richard Norton, Boston University
Offering coherent and lucid analysis of what has become a main feature of Gulf politics since the Arab Spring, this book is a must read for anybody interested in Gulf political dynamics and sectarianism in the Middle East.
—Laurence Louër, author of Transnational Shia Politics in the Gulf and Shiism and Politics in the Middle East
Wehrey’s new book offers a theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich overview of the politics of Sunni-Shiite relations across the Gulf. His extensive research on the ground across the Gulf comes through powerfully, as does his balanced analytical sensibility. It should be required reading for anyone interested in Sunni-Shiite relations or in the regional politics of the Gulf.
—Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy Middle East Channel
In this magisterial account, Fred Wehrey goes a long way in demystifying and dissecting the issue of sectarianism in the Gulf…. [His] account is particularly refreshing for bringing scholarly gravitas to a subject that is all too often discussed in glib and superficial terms. Sectarian Politics in the Gulf is a must read that offers a fresh and innovative contribution to the literature in international relations and comparative government. It is extremely well written and laid out. The book belongs on the syllabus of any class dealing with Gulf security and on the desk of policy planners and decision makers around the world.
—International Journal of Middle East Studies
The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis to examine economic, sociopolitical, and strategic interests in the Arab world. Through detailed country studies and the exploration of key crosscutting themes, the Carnegie Middle East Program, in coordination with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, provides analysis and recommendations in both English and Arabic that are deeply informed by knowledge and views from the region. The program has special expertise in political reform and Islamist participation in pluralistic politics.
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