Shia Crescent

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The Shia Crescent. The numbers shows the percent of Shia in the population

The Shia Crescent (or Shiite Crescent) is the notionally crescent-shaped region of the Middle East where the majority population is Shia or where there is a strong Shia minority in the population. The corresponding term is especially common in German, where it is known as Schiitischer Halbmond ("Shia Halfmoon").[1]

If it was a Shia-led Iraq that had a special relationship with Iran, and you look at that relationship with Syria and with Hezbollah-Lebanon, then we have this new crescent that appears that would be very destabilising for the Gulf countries and actually for the whole region.

Abdullah II of Jordan, Hardball, NBC News.[2]

The term was coined in 2004 by King Abdullah II of Jordan at a time when Iran was reportedly interfering in Iraq in the run-up to the January 2005 parliamentary elections.[2] This was in the context of a threatened, later realised, boycott of the elections by Sunnis in Iraq potentially leading to a Shia-dominated government and the assumption that a Shia Iraq might fall under the influence of Shia Iran. The suggestion was that the common religion gives good potential for cooperation between Iran, Iraq, Alawite-dominated Syria and the politically powerful Shia militia Hezbollah in Lebanon; as well, the suggestion was that these others would be proxies for Iran in a regional power play.[3]

The term has developed since to encompass other Shia areas of the Middle East. The nations where Shia Muslims form a dominant majority are Iran and Iraq. Shias also represent a large majority in Azerbaijan, however it is constitutionally a secular state.[4] Those who are actual practicing adherents are much lower,[5] which has led to them generally being excluded from the crescent.[6] Shia are also the majority of citizens in Bahrain, however the government is largely Sunni.[6]

Large Shia minorities also exist in Lebanon, Kuwait, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and to a lesser extent, UAE. Excepting Lebanon, where the weak central government structure of Lebanon has allowed Hezbollah to become involved in the Syrian civil war,[7] these are not usually described as part of the crescent.

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