Sunni, Shiite -- what's the difference?
As for Iran, Mr. Giuliani said that "in the long term," it might be "more dangerous than Iraq."
He then casually lumped Iran with Al Qaeda. "Their movement has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us," he said.
Mr. Giuliani was asked in an interview to clarify that, inasmuch as Iran had no connection to the Sept. 11 attacks. Further, most of its people are Shiites, whereas Al Qaeda is an organization of Sunnis.
"They have a similar objective," he replied, "in their anger at the modern world."
In other words, he said, they hate America.
Time to add Giuliani to the long list of American officials who lack even the most basic understanding of the Middle East. Here's what CQ reporter Jeff Stein wrote in a Times op-ed back in October 2006
For the past several months, I've been wrapping up lengthy interviews with Washington counterterrorism officials with a fundamental question: "Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?"
A "gotcha" question? Perhaps. But if knowing your enemy is the most basic rule of war, I don't think it's out of bounds. And as I quickly explain to my subjects, I'm not looking for theological explanations, just the basics: Who's on what side today, and what does each want?
...[S]o far, most American officials I've interviewed don't have a clue. That includes not just intelligence and law enforcement officials, but also members of Congress who have important roles overseeing our spy agencies. How can they do their jobs without knowing the basics?
It makes this paragraph of the Times story on Giuliani seem especially apt:
What are his qualifications for dealing with foreign policy matters? He cited his experience as mayor of an international city, and recalled that he had once kicked Yasir Arafat out of a United Nations celebration at Lincoln Center on the ground that he was a terrorist.
And that's about it.