What the World Has Lost in Iran

An Iranian flag flies at the Soroush oil field in 2005. (Raheb Homavandi/Reuters)
A new book on the Sunni–Shia conflict makes clear that the steady radicalization of sectarian difference in the Middle East was not inevitable.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE W hen you’ve done your day’s viewing of government coronavirus briefings — Governor Cuomo’s, Governor Newsom’s, President Trump’s — spare a minute for Grand Ayatollah Khamenei’s. In a cozy fireside-chat format, Iran’s Supreme Leader has been taking the opportunity presented by this moment of shared global suffering to remind the world that the true enemy of mankind is not epidemic disease, but the “vicious, lying, brazen, avaricious, cruel, merciless, terrorist” United States, and atheist, materialist Western civilization.

Throughout the Middle East Khamenei’s clients provide a steady chorus for this kind of invective. One consequence is that the claim he is now broadcasting

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