Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunni-Shia Battle and Possibility of an Alawite State in Syria

Could there be an attempt to establish a separate Alawite state in Syria?
As I've noted in some previous posts, Syria's civil war can be best understood through the clear prism of a Sunni-Shia/Alawite battle in Syria.  Furthermore, there has also been a lot of discussion about how the endgame for Assad and the Alawites may well be an Alawite state in Syria.

Last week, I read a very interesting article in Time magazine by Tony Karon.  The article provided an overview of the current situation in Syria, including whether the Assad regime might be desparate enough to use chemical weapons against the rebels in an act of Desperation.  In discussing how the war in Syria might end, Karon discusses how the regime in Syria is actually based on the sectarian control of Syria by the Alawite majority::
A fracturing of Syria could, in the minds of some of the hard men around Assad, offer the prospect of salvaging more than they might if the regime is defeated and replaced by a strong, Sunni-dominated central state.  Assad’s regime is not so much a personality-cult dictatorship as it is a system of Alawite minority rule and privilege, and its core remains a cohesive, heavily armed and highly motivated Alawite-dominated army that believes it is fighting for the survival of its community. Even once it recognizes that it can no longer rule the entire country, its sectarian communal logic may militate against making a desperate last stand in Damascus, a predominantly Sunni city.
Given the sectarian nature of the minority Alawite regime in Syria, Karon notes that the Alawite leadership around Assad may well see it in their interests to see Syria completely fracture around them, as this may make it possible for the Alawites to establish a separate Alawite state in Syria around the Alawite heartland in western Syria centered the coastal cities of Tartus and Lakatia.  Karon notes the following:
Unlike Gaddafi in Libya, Assad is ruling on behalf of a community, and the key decisions may not be his alone to make. The Alawite strongmen around him don’t want to commit suicide. They want to protect themselves and their families from the violent retribution they fear is inevitable if the regime falls. That may make them more likely to favor a retreat to the Alawite heartland along the coast, where they’ll have a greater base of strength than they do in Damascus. If so, the regime, as we know it, will have fallen, but the civil war would be far from over.
I found Karon's article an excellent read, and it confirms my opinion that one possible endgame -  at least in the mind of the Alawite leadership around Assad - is a retreat from Damascus and an attempt to establish a separate Alawite state in Syria.  Here is the link to Karon's article.

No comments:

Post a Comment