In 2016, Barzani announced that once the Kurds had their own state he would step down. Riding high after the defeat of IS in Iraq’s cities, he made his move in 2017. Calling a referendum that he hoped would pave the way for an independent state, he ramped up pro-Kurdish rhetoric at home, incurring the wrath of nervous neighbours as well as long-term allies. While he went ahead with the vote and won a landslide victory at the polls, retribution soon followed. His ambition on behalf of the Kurdish people has ultimately led to his downfall, with the Kurdish project in its worst position for years.
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At the root of the conflict between Iran and its Arab neighbours lies the Shia-Sunni divide, as the patrons of the two Muslim sects, Tehran and Riyadh respectively, are both prepared to promote and support their sectarian beliefs. Conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain can be viewed in this light. Yet it is also the result of an ordinary struggle between two regional powers.
Historically, Saudi Arabia and Iran have not stood head-to-head, and while several factors played into the historical deterioration of relations between the two regional powers, oil was the main cause. The consequences of the economic face off are felt by both nations, and, most importantly, their populations.
The Berbers strategize and react to their marginalization in different ways, according to the realities of their local and national environment. In general, however, they seek a re-examination of what constitutes their countries’ collective identities and how the historical and socio-political roles of Berbers in the construction of North Africa can be highlighted. They also demand social justice and the improvement of their social status, especially in rural areas, which are characterized by high rates of poverty.
Today, Shiites are divided into numerous sects, the largest being Twelver Shiism. Shiites make up the majority of the population in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and Azerbaijan; and they constitute significant minorities in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, Nigeria and Tanzania.
Following the fall of the regime, rap exploded. Rap was featured in patriotic songs, political shows and even a yoghurt commercial. The country was experiencing a wave of freedom of expression, and rappers, like many other artists, used it to express themselves without any noticeable objection from the authorities.