Last week when Charlie Sennott was on BPR to go over the diplomatic split between Iran and Saudi Arabia he vowed to come back today  to take us to the beginning of this conflict, which started to foment 1400 years ago.


As a way to help explain what’s happening, the following excerpt is from The GroundTruth Project's award-winning series “In The Land of Cain and Abel." The series launched in 2013 on the 10-year anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq and continued into 2015 as a chain reaction of violence swept across Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and now Yemen.


Biblical tradition holds that northern Iraq is the land of Cain and Abel.

And from this rugged patch of earth to Baghdad and from Fallujah to Ramadi and all across post-war Iraq, the biblical parable of fratricide seems to be playing out in a contemporary context: Muslim brothers killing Muslim brothers.

The sectarian tensions in Iraq take on a regional context with neighboring Iran backing the Shia government, and neighboring Saudi Arabia taking the side of the Sunni.

This flare-up of Sunni-Shia tensions that emanates from Iraq is rippling out in waves across the Middle East. The ‘Arab Awakening,’ as the uprisings that toppled dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and in the bloody civil war in Syria are referred to here in the region, have also served to exacerbate sectarian tensions, particularly in Syria.

Charlie Sennott is a news analyst at GBH where he runs The GroundTruth Project. To listen to his explainer click on the audio link above. To explore GroundTruth's entire award-winning series, In the Land of Cain and Abel, click here.