The Shiite-Sunni divide is one of the root causes to a lot of problems in the Middle East. There are a lot of war stories and history tied up in this divide. The main thing we need to understand is that, in certain areas, they are divided. We also should know a little about how this divide started. The Sunnis and Shiites are both Muslim. Meaning they follow the religion of Islam, with key traditional differences. Their divide came after the prophet Muhammad died in the year 632 C.E.. The two sides began to fight over who would lead the Muslim world next. There was blood-shed and so began a divide that is still in existence today.
Sunnis make up almost all of the world's population of Muslims. Except for in Iran and Iraq. The map below supports this.
Almost all of the Muslims you meet in the United States are Sunni (Although this divide doesn't reach as far as America. Most Muslims in the U.S., and the rest of the world, would just say they are "Muslim"). How does this divide tie into the current ISIL crisis?
After the United States pulled out of Iraq the government running Iraq was left predominately Shiite. This made the Sunnis living in the country feel like the government's interests were in favor of the Shiite population. A branch of Al-Qaeda decided to take advantage of this, and convince the Sunnis into joining them in a rebellion against the government. Sort of like how Hitler gained his power. Taking advantage of a society ready to be conquered.
This divide is tearing apart several countries. We are talking about several hundred million people here. What we should realize is that this area is still in need of reform. It will take a while before they stabilize. We need to be prepared for this, and stay away from war-mongering. Believe it or not our general opinion is taken into account when our government makes these decisions. We must also trust our government to handle the politics of it. Pay attention to the goals of certain politicians. Vote in the ones that have goals of a healthy society please. Democrat or Republican. This is just the opinion of one man.
Pew Research Information. This is the site that backs up a lot of this article. It also has a lot of other valuable information. Check it out.
Religion Facts explains the background of the Shiite-Sunni divide. It is where I got what isn't common knowledge about the history of the divide.
Another important factor is the Kurdish population. I will explain this in the coming article.