I finished reading Vali Nasr’s The Shia Revival the other day. It was a pretty good introduction on Shia and Sunni relations in the region, and while most of the Lebanese, Iranian and Iraqi parts were review for me, the sections on Bahrain and Pakistan made for new and interesting reading. Nasr does a good job of explaining the specifics of situations in various countries and then using them to draw a bigger picture of the direction that Shia politics are heading in the Middle East.
Otherwise, I’ve just stared reading Rashid Khalidi’s Resurrecting Empire. I’m only about 40 pages in, but the quotes that open chapter two were particularly interesting:
Oh ye Egyptians, they may say to you that I have not made an expedition hither for any other object than that of abolishing your religion … but tell the slanderers that I have not come to you except for the purpose of restoring your rights from the hands of the oppressors.
–Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexandria, July 2, 1798
Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators….It is the hope and desire of the British people and the nations in alliance with them that the Arab race may rise once more to greatness and renown among the peoples of the earth.
–General F.S. Maude, Commander of British Forces, Baghdad, March 19, 1917
Unlike many armies in the world, you came not to conquer, not to occupy, but to liberate, and the Iraqi people know this.
–Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Baghdad, April 29, 2003