Middle East expert to tackle Shia, Sunni issues | SteamboatToday.com

Middle East expert to tackle Shia, Sunni issues

Alexis DeLaCruz

— A Middle East and South Asia politics professor, author and regular TV and radio commentator will share his thoughts about Iraq and a “Shia revival” on Thursday.

Vali Nasr, who authored “The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future,” will be Seminars at Steamboat’s second speaker on public policy this summer. Nasr will present his talk “The United States and the Middle East After Iraq: Taking Stock of Iran and the Shia Revival” at 5 p.m. Thursday at Strings in the Mountains Music Festival Park.

Jim Goodrich, a Seminars board member, said this is the third year Seminars has hosted someone to talk about issues relating to Iraq.

“Unfortunately, it is still a very timely topic,” he said.

Goodrich said he expects Nasr, who is an Iranian Shia, to explain the background between the centuries-old conflict between the Shiites and the Sunnis as well as discuss how their relationship will shape the future of the Middle East and the U.S.

“The most interesting thing I found when I read his book is that the conflict is as much geo-political as it is religious,” Goodrich said. “I think most people think the conflict is solely religious, but it’s more complex than that.”

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Nasr has called the conflict “a struggle for the soul of Islam.”

“Theological and historical disagreements fuel it, but so do today’s concerns with power, subjugation, freedom and equality, not to mention regional conflicts and foreign intrigues. It is, paradoxically, a very old, very modern conflict,” he said.

Goodrich said he is eager to hear Nasr’s views.

“It’s going to be plenty interesting,” he said.

Nasr, who professes at the Naval Postgraduate School in California, graduated from Tufts University. He received a master’s degree in international economics and Middle East studies from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and his Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Nasr is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow at the Dubai Initiative at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

– To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

If you go

What: Seminars at Steamboat presents “The United States and the Middle East after Iraq: Taking Stock of Iran and the Shia Revival”

When: 5 p.m. Thursday

Where: Strings in the Mountains Music Festival Park

Cost: Free

Call: 879-1589