December 1, 2014 | Letter to the Editor - The Boston Globe

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Extremism Will Continue to Block Peace in Syria

THE EDITORIAL “Peace in Syria requires Saudi Arabia and Iran thaw” mistakenly bought into questionable Iraqi and Iranian news reports, rebutted by Newsweek, that claim Saudi King Abdullah granted a pardon to Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. The sheik, who led Arab Spring protests by the kingdom’s Shiite minority, has been sentenced to death on vague charges for his peaceful criticism of authoritarian Saudi policies.

The Globe’s editorial, however, was generally right. Peace in Syria depends upon Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia ending their support for Sunni extremism and Iran ending support for Shiite terrorist groups such as Hezbollah. Unfortunately, there is little tangible indication that they are prepared to do so.

Just this month, Saudi Arabia received plaudits in the Western press for sponsoring an interfaith conference in Vienna to discuss religious extremism. Yet a broadcast of the event on Saudi state television conveniently omitted the fact that Jewish communal leaders participated in the event.

Further, it was recently revealed that a Saudi-run school in Vienna uses official textbooks from Riyadh’s Ministry of Education that teach hatred of other religious groups, even though Saudi officials promised Washington that religious invective in these books would be removed by 2008.

David Andrew Weinberg

Washington

The author is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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Issues:

Syria