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Sunni-Shia Conflict and the Future of Gulf Oil

Recorded on November 29, 2007

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

There is a growing friction between militant movements in the Middle East, such as the Mahdi Army, Hezbollah and others, supported by Iran versus those of the Sunni Arab states and radical Sunni movements. This conflict reflects both religious and ideological splits in the Islamic Ummah (community) as well as growing threats from the rise of a more aggressive Iran, which seeks to become a regional hegemon.

With oil prices approaching $100 a barrel, the Sunni-Shia split represents a potential threat to the stability and security of Persian Gulf oil flows that are critical, not only to the United States, but also to the world. Al Qaeda affiliates have explicitly targeted major oil infrastructure in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, resulting in increased premiums for oil prices. Additionally, Shia militants in Iraq have diverted large amounts of oil to finance their operations, causing states' and legitimate companies' control of energy revenues to deteriorate. Join us as our panel of experts explores means for dealing with increased conflict, terrorism and insurgencies as well as ways to expand cooperation between the U.S. and other stakeholders, both among Persian Gulf states and the private sector.