Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tartus - The Capital of the Future Alawite State of "Alawistan"?

Tartus is located on the Mediterranean in the Alawite heartland
As I noted in my previous post, the Assad regime may see a retreat to the Alawite heartland along the coast of the Mediterranean as a way to stave off ultimate defeat, and perhaps even their own destruction.  I have noted that this idea of the formation of an Alawite State in Syria may well be an "end-game" the regime is keeping in its back pocket if it appears they will be defeated in Damascus.

In that regard, I just read a fascinating article in the New York Times on how the city of Tartus in the Alawite heartland is thriving despite the bloody Sunni-Alawite/Shia civil war in the rest of Syria.  The Times article noted that there are numerous indications that security forces may indeed be laying the logistical groundwork for the formation of a separate Alawite state in the region.  Some of the indicators include the possibility of turning a tiny local airfield into a full airport, as well as the regime's forces tightening security checkpoints around what could be the borders of a separate Alawite state of "Alawistan".

The Times article had an interesting summary of what current regime thinking on creating an Alawite state might be:
Should Damascus fall to the opposition, Tartus could become the heart of an attempt to create a different country. Some expect Mr. Assad and the security elite will try to survive the collapse by establishing a rump Alawite state along the coast, with Tartus as their new capital.
I personally am not sure if the idea of a separate Alawite state is feasible logistically or militarily for the regime and its' Alawite supporters, but do bear in mind that there is precedent for this, as a separate Alawite state called Aleppo actually existed under the French mandate from 1920-1946.  At any rate, I think one would have to be willfully blind to ignore the fact that conflict in Syria is largely a sectarian civil war between the Shia Alawites and the Sunni majority.

For those interested, here is the link to the NY Times article referenced above.