The position of the Alawites has been controversial since the start of the Syrian revolution, for while several members of that branch of Shiite Islam, especially sheikhs, declared that they are distancing themselves from the Assad family and the atrocities the regime commits against pro-democracy protestors, the fact remains that this is the sect from which President Bashar al-Assad comes and, therefore, mostly pledges allegiance to him.
This also makes any decision by Alawites to join the revolution an extremely vital step towards the liberation of the country from al-Assad’s despotism. Waheed Saqr, secretary general of the Syrian Unified Bloc, Syria’s main opposition group and an Alawite dissident himself, called upon Alawites to join the revolution.
Saqr argued that in addition to the fact the regime will be dealt a fatal blow if it loses the support of the Alawites, the Alawites will also have to save themselves from the regime’s plans to take advantage of it in order to intensify its repressive measures against peaceful protestors.
“The regime will keep crushing opposition and insisting to stay in power under the pretext of protecting minorities and the focus is on Alawites more than any other group,” he said.
Saqr added that if the Alawites join the revolution, they will both prevent the regime from using them as a tool of repression and will also tip the balance in favor of the revolution.
“Only when silent minorities decide to speak up will the regime find no other backup.”
Saqr warned that a civil war could erupt if different groups in Syria, Alawites and others, do not have enough awareness.
The same, he added, will happen if international protection is not provided for protestors so that they can stage pro-democracy demonstrations without scores of them being killed every day.
“This silence on the part of the international community is bound to drag Syria to a civil war.”
Saqr also reiterated the revolutionaries’ objection to armament, yet cautioned that this might change if the violence escalates.
“We are not going to be attacked forever without fending for ourselves.”
For Lebanese MP Hassan Yaacoub, civil war is an extremely unlikely scenario in Syria, because the regime has so far proved very strong in the face of protests.
Yaacoub objected to statements about the protests being peaceful and insisted that the revolutionaries are indeed armed and have so far killed 1,200 from the military, in an obvious reference to army officers who have defected and joined the revolution.
He also argued that the opposition in Syria is receiving support from foreign powers.
“This was obvious when they received the French and American ambassadors and in the statements of several officials and heads of state from different parts of the world,” he said.
Yaacoub praised the reforms that Assad has begun and called on all Syrians to take part in this process.
“Syrians also have to abandon allegations that the regime is supported by foreign powers like Iran and Hezbollah.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)