The Syrian conflict has strongly exacerbated regional sectarianism. This chapter examines the rhetoric of Saudi ‘ulama (clerics) against Shi’ism and Syria’s minority Alawite regime. Potentially influential as a conservative force against Islamist radicalism, ‘ulama of different persuasions (establishment, non-establishment, traditionalist, or progressive) are caught between opposition to regime oppression of Syria’s Sunnis and the politically motivated desire not to be seen supporting radical anti-regime groups like ISIS. Difficult questions thus arise, especially regarding the permissibility of jihad in Syria. Overall, some ‘ulama may have indirectly encouraged donations to radical groups, and as militants defect, Saudi money may even have ended up with ISIS. But this chapter finds no evidence of direct clerical support and argues that this would not be in their interests.
|Title of host publication||The Arab World and Iran: A turbulent region in transition|
|Place of Publication||New York|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|