Last June, the US-Israel-Turkey-Saudia funded Syrian rebels used a explosive-laden car to attack the shrine of Syedina Zainab (as) daughter of Hazarat Ali ibn Talib, the fourth righteous Khalifa of Islam, near city of Damascus. The suicidal attack injured 14 Shia pilgrims and damaged a portion of the shrine which has been repaired since.
Franklin Lamb Ph.D, who recently visited the shrine, has written an excellent article detailing how the anti-Muslim imperialist powers are exploiting the centuries-old Shia-Sunni divide to isolate Ba’athist regime in Damascus led by president Bashar al-Assad from the “Axis of Resistance” (Iran, Iraq, Hizballah and Hamas).
It is well known in this region that powerful foreign and domestic forces in nearly every country, but particularly Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, are increasingly acting, for purely political purposes, to ignite a bloody internecine conflict within Islam. Indeed, the 3/17/13 attacks targeting four Sunni sheikhs in Beirut that led to immediate road blockings in Beirut, Sidon and the Bekaa Valley is a reminder of the vulnerability of Lebanon’s own delicate sectarian balance to potential chaos.
The seemingly rapid escalation of Shia-Sunni sectarian strife pulsating back and forth across Syria and in and out of Iraq and Lebanon appear to some analysts to be unstoppable. This week the UN Security Council expressed alarm that rising sectarian violence threatened a return to civil war in Lebanon. The sect targeted for destruction, is mainly, but not exclusively, Shia Muslims and a potential conflagration among a few Muslim sects is smoldering from Yemen to Libya to Pakistan and in more than a dozen countries. Places of worship are being attacked with the hope of creating flight and destruction among so-called kuffar (infidels) and other alleged “enemies of Allah.”
As the violence continues in parts of Syria it is not always clear who exactly is behind, for example, the thefts of antiquities from museums and shops, the carting off of medical equipment from hospitals, the widespread stripping of certain factories in places like Aleppo and moving their assets to Turkey, apparently with little if any objection from Ankara, and the damaging of mainly Christian and Shia places of worship. But there is little doubt that Islamist extremists, are behind many of these crimes.
Against this backdrop of targeting religious institutions and shrines of minority sects in Syria, it is little wonder that following serious attacks on the Sayedda Zeinab Shrine near the village of Zoa south of Damascus, one as recently as last month, that Shia Muslims and others across the world are deeply concerned about its safety. Three recent attacks on the resting place of Zeinab bint Ali, the granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) has also led to speculation that certain elements may launch a ‘false flag’ attack to ignite conflict between Sunni and Shia. Al-Qaeda affiliated groups such as Jabhat al Nursa and Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) have pledged to defeat Lebanon’s Hezbollah in the name of Allah.
Tens of thousands of Shia pilgrims and others from around the world visit this Damascus suburb every year, most to pray at the Sayyeda Zeinab shrine. It was also one of the reasons why I wanted to go there.
Learn about the so-called “Sunni-Shia” divide below.