Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What do Changes in Iraq Mean for Syria

UK plans to slash Iraq force over the next year. Memo gives timetable for pullout of most British and US troops.

Richard Norton-Taylor and Michael Howard in Irbil
Monday July 11, 2005
The Guardian

Britain and the US are privately planning to withdraw most of their forces from Iraq by early next year, according to a secret memo written by John Reid, the UK defence secretary.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said on Tuesday that some Iraqi cities were secure enough so that US and Coalition troops could withdraw from them soon. He defended, however, a US military presence in the short term, and opposed a precise timetable for US withdrawal.

Al-Hayat says that its sources say the US will begin withdrawing troops at the end of 2005 from provinces where the Iraqi military and security forces can keep the peace. The withdrawal is dependent on the Iraqis being able to finalize a constitution and adopt it through a national referendum, however. (Nicked from Informed Comment)

Juan Cole also writes:
Al-Hayat says that the parliamentary committee in Iraq charged with writing a constitution by August 15 is increasingly split. The Sunni Arabs on it are saying they fear a loose federalism will lead to a partition of the country into statelets. The Kurds reply that the Sunni objections are "illegitimate."

The dispute concerns the first sentence in the constitution, a draft of which defines Iraq as "federal."

Over the weekend, a Shiite representative of Grand Ayatollah Sistani called for Iraq to be formally termed "the Islamic Republic of Iraq" in the Constitution.

Sunni Arabs are also insisting that Iraq be termed "an indivisible part of the Arab nation," whereas the Kurds object that Iraq is a multicultural society. A special subcommittee has been formed to try to iron out these fundamental differences.


What does this news mean for Syria?
For some time I have written about how America's dual policies: 1. Stabilizing Iraq, and 2. Democratizing the Greater Middle East, are largely contradictory, at least in the short term.

Policy 1 suggests the US must make friends with, or work closely with Iraq's neighboring authoritarian regimes, such as Syria and Iran, in order to stop the flow of insurgents into Iraq. The US seems to be doing just this and has made it clear it no longer seeks regime-change in Syria, if in fact there ever was such a consensus in Washington, which I doubt.

Policy 2 is taking a back seat in Washington right now, which means that democratization, cannot be advanced with vigor, hence the new honeymoon between Bush and Bashar. President Bashar is helping this dialogue along with his recent arrests of foreign militants in Syria. This does not mean that America abandons democracy in the region. It means that it must stabilize Iraq first and help consolidate some semblance of pluralism and a working state in Baghdad before it takes on the whole Middle East. Bush will use his bully-pulpit to cajole and urge Arab government toward Democracy, but he will not threaten to upend them, as he did so blithely several years ago.

The confusion among Iraqis over the nature of its constitution and the identity of its people is not unique to Iraq. Syria suffers the same identity disputes and sectarian intolerance that underpin Iraq's troubles.

Were the constitutional question to be opened up in Syria, as it has been in Iraq, we would see similar disputes over its Islamic-Arab-Syrian identity. This dispute springs from divided nature of Syria's sectarian and ethnic communities. To see evidence of the plentiful misunderstandings, read the comment section on this earlier post "Syria: a Monopoly on Democracy," by Aita from Le Monde Dipl., or the on the two posts that precede it.

Here is the moving note I received Samir Aita, the author of the article I posted, which elicited the sectarian battle among commentators. It reads:
I woke up this morning and found that you have posted the article on your blog. Thank you for that and for your appreciation. I also read the comments, which made me very sad. You can not imagine how sad. The gentlemen making the comments did not discuss the article, they develop hatred between each other. I got so sad reading what they wrote, that I even regretted for a moment why I wrote the whole article.

Then I remembered that this article resulted from discussions made with young Syrians in Damascus, Aleppo and Lattakia, looking to know their history and searching to build something different from "the constructive instability" and authoritarianism. They all shared the "Jasmin" hope, as a democratic and secular one. They all refused exactly the type of hatred that are in the comments. They all liked my "I have a dream" (for Syria) published last year.

I hope that your commentators could share their strength, dreams and respect of differences.

Samir
One Syrian commentator wrote: "I always hope to read an intelligent dialoged but after what I have read today I feel Syria is not ready for democracy."

Another commentator suggested that agents of the Baath Party were posting the divisive sectarian comments in order to prove that Syria is not ready for democracy and provide an argument for the perpetuation of dictatorship.

I doubt anyone in the government has the creativity, or daring, or even real interest in doing this. Sectarian misunderstanding is real in Syria, as it is in Iraq and Lebanon. Why should we doubt its existence or underestimate it? Better to confront it head on before it rears its ugly head at some future crisis. The policy of taboos about honest airing of sectarian grievances put in place by successive Syrian governments has not worked to produce social harmony or to erase the subnational fault lines that divide Syrians. Only honest dialogue can do that.

29 Comments:

At 7/13/2005 05:23:00 AM, Anonymous Tarek said...

I share Samir's disgust with what was said in the previous post. But I will be a lot less politically correct than he is about this, maybe because I don’t have a reputation to save ;) but more likely because I have no tolerance for any type of racism or prejudice. Their comments made me physically ill and that’s why I would like to say the following directly to them:

What the hell happened to this blog? Where did these racist pricks come from all of a sudden? What is wrong with you people? And i mean the whole lot of you (from all sects). The only exception that I remember was Syrian in Canada.

You CANNOT generalize like this, there are good and bad people in every religion. When will you ignorant bastards know that religion is an obstacle?? Every religion thinks its the best, the Masai in Kenya running half naked believing they are the chosen ones, Jews are God's chosen people, Christians and Muslims think they have the best religion. What has religion brought us but wars?

And for the Non-Alwaites in this forum I would like to ask you to think what would your sect have done to minorities if they had ruled? Love and respect them no doubt (my ass)

And if your too stupid to have noticed yet I am an bad little “Kaffer” (Sunni background) and I believe that anyone from any sect has the right to rule Syria or any country for that matter as long as he/she can do a good job. And to say that only Sunni's can rule because they are the majority is disgusting and wrong. The Majority of the Syrian population is backward thinking and retarded does that mean we need to be ruled by one them???

People like you are the reason why we need a police state, because god forbid we get a democracy one day and morons like you start running the country with your hate preaching. Syria is supposed to be an example of how various sects live together, but your making it sound like Lebanon in the early 80’s. I am not delusional, sectarian hate and differences is a reality in all countries but lets just hope you’re a hated and hopefully oppressed minority in Syria.

Big kiss, hug and love ;)

Tarek

 
At 7/13/2005 06:30:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to Tarek- I'm sure you are aware of the sectarian tensions in Syria already but frankly speaking, I have never seen its ugly face as expressed in the previous blog. My friends & surroundings were always from all sects and ethnics (these issues only came out as jokes)

 
At 7/13/2005 08:03:00 AM, Anonymous George Ajjan said...

Let's all please remember that in addition to some of the thoughtful, informative, and constructive commentary made on Syriacomment.com, internet forums often attract passive-aggressive personalities who hide behind the anonymity of their hateful sentiments.

So I would argue that ugly calibre of some recent postings actually has little to do with systemic sectarianism.

Josh, Samir, et al - please continue your good work on behalf of all Syrians hoping for peace and progress.

 
At 7/13/2005 08:15:00 AM, Anonymous Mohammed said...

Since Tarek repeated his post on another article, I want him to read my answer to him here:

Here comes Tarek to, as predicted, and as usual, attack Syrians for lack of maturity, and to preach to them, thinking he derserved this position now. Yes, the regime wants always to portray itself like Tarek is doing. How come the Syrian people are backward, Mr. Tarek? How come after 40 years of one family rule, and with absolute power, and absolute stability that the regime is so proud to declare to us from time to time, the Syrians are so retarded? You may say that Syria is poor, and the Assad family can not educate the people for the lack of resources, and money, but only 4 weeks ago, we heard another example of one of the Assad family having left 5 billion dollars in cash to his sons and ex wives for which they went to court in France to fight over this inheritance, that beside what he owns in Syria in Real Estate. One single brother of Hafez Assad (Who himself was also listed as one of the world billionaires in the past), and then remembering what Basel Assad left in Swiss Banks, and what Rifaat has in Europe and the US (billions also), and what others, many others in the regime like Khadam, Shehabi, Kenaan, Tlas, etc... own in foreign banks (billions also), we may wonder where did these families get this money from? Isn't Syria a poor country that it can not educate this stupid bunch because of the lack of resources?

Then, Tarek (You are despicable, and I hate stupid people like you), who on Earth gave the men of this regime the right to come to power in the first place, and to stay for decaded, and then to inherit Syria to their children? Aren't they also part of this ignorant Syrian people (that doesn't deserve democracy)? Who gave you the right to decide whether this people deserves democracy or not? How long will you stay in power, and decide for the people that only you are mature and the rest of us are not?

Again, Tarek, you are more despicable than both the Angry Sunnis who want syria to be owned by them again from a feudal point of view, and the lack of human understanding, And the angry Alawis who are in opposition, but still the Sunnis can not trust them because they think they support the regime in secret and are attacked as much as the Allawis who are stealing and terrorizing Syria and its people.

So, Tarek, in short: You are the igorant selfish immature Syrian, not the majority of Syrians you and your regime want always to portray as immature and does not "deserve" democracy, as if democracy is a gift you possess and decide if the recipient deserves be given this gift or not> What a trick you want to continue to play!

Mohammed, the Allawi

 
At 7/13/2005 08:59:00 AM, Anonymous Tarek said...

I guess I am supposed to “retaliate” to Mohammed’s comment by some cool insults. But I wont, since he asks good questions and more importantly has the right to his own opinion (including calling me stupid and despicable). Although it scares me that none of his critisim is targeted towards that hate parade we saw in the earlier post. BUT ANYWAYS!!! What really drives me up the wall and I have said this a million times already. Is this constant image that Syria’s government is the most corrupt, undemocratic, oppressive etc. etc.

Can you MR. MOHAMMED please grace us with the name of ONE government in the Arab world that does not share these great values with us? Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya??? (Please note I did not mention absolute monarchies cause I felt it’s unfair to use that against you) can you justify their leaders wealth?

Or how about the west, do you really f&cking think that senators in the US only make a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year???? Corruption exists in most countries, we just took it to a higher level in a less sophisticated manner (i am NOT condoning it).

I also did not say that Syria doesn’t deserve democracy, if you go back few posts ago that was exactly the topic. But I would rather have a sectarian dictatorship over a fundamentalist government ANY DAY. I also feel that the only way to a lasting form of democracy (cause true democracy does not exist anywhere) is through slow transition for Syria. A highly likely alternative is violence with unknown outcomes that could be a lot worse than the present case. And can we deny that things are marginally more open than the 80’s & 90’s?

In my very humble and insignificant opinion, there should be continues demand for the current government to open up until its possible for free and open elections to be held.

FYI, I am not in any position of power, I am not affiliated with anyone in power, I am just a regular employee in Europe. But I am sure your stubborn head wont allow you to believe that. Oh well…

 
At 7/13/2005 09:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mohammed,

“who on Earth gave the men of this regime the right to come to power in the first place, and to stay for decaded, and then to inherit Syria to their children?” Actually we did!! We the Syrians did this! We let le ourselves be treated like sheep and we have not asked for respectful treatment. We played along the corruption and actually enjoyed it. We allowed those baathists (allawi and non allawis) to grow as big as they are by being the nice quite speechless people that we are, and by playing along with them and paying them the bribes that helped them build up those fortunes of billions of dollars. This is all money we actively or passively let them take. So yes, we are the culprits here, and no we are not that great intelligent freedom loving people, let’s face it! It kills me and breaks my heart saying this, but recognizing the problem is the first step to addressing it. Why did this happen? Well, my personal observation says this:
a-“Arabism is the opium of society” (to borrow a well known phrase),
b-also of course economic starvation of the people (includes the disappearance of the middle class), and
c-the heavy hand that the regime dealt with the people.

(I’m starting to write like an author of kitab al kawmieh in high-school )

We all played along for some reason or the other! So as “humble playalong cowards”, we did not aspire in any manner to any kind of freedom. This little minority that did, was not supported by the populations (not supported in deed only in words and useless wishes), so they ended up in jail.

Not an excuse but again an observations as to why this happened, bring to my mind a phrase that Duraid Lahham said during an interview. The interviewer asked him about his thoughts on the resistance and the Arabism fight and all this blabla, he looked at her and told her: you cannot ask me about this, we are a generation that lost (nehna jeel enhazam), and you could hear the desperation in his voice and the saddened look in his face! They had enough Arabism opium in their heads (thanks Mr. Abdel Nassel for this), and the results was what know and what disrespect that we living today.

We are not ready for democracy; regalrdelss who says this, the regime or Tarek, or whoever!! This is the truth. Before Democracy we need to let out our anger that has been building up over the decades; anger the others (notably allawis) and against those from within that have been kissing up to the people that we all are trying to get rid of! Then we need to install an understanding of leadership! We do not have such an understanding!! As one character in mousalsal Khan Al Harir said: nehneh metel ard el basal, kelayatna roos!!

Let’s not get into in an “Iraq phse” only to end up being like Lebanon (god forbid).

I agree with your comment that democracy is not a gift to be given out for free; but isn’t this what all Syrian are asking Bashar Assad to do? Who can decide whether the “recipients” deserve democracy or not; well it is the “recipients” themselves. And as much as I would love to have, as much as I hate this regime and the pathetic situation that it has led our country into, as much as I have to honest and vote with Tarek: we are not ready!

Bashar the Halabi :-)

 
At 7/13/2005 09:48:00 AM, Anonymous Mohammed said...

To: Bashar Al HAlabi

Thank you for your great answer. I agree with you whole heartedly. However, the men of the regime have no inheritted right to decide that the Syrian people are immature for democracy, and that they, at their pace will give Syria democracy.

Thanks again.

Mohammed, The Allawi

 
At 7/13/2005 10:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a feeling the Allawis that posted in the other blog entry were not truly Allawis. Seriously, one of them even started praising Jews. Have you ever heard of the Assad's and the Allawis praising Jews?

 
At 7/13/2005 10:34:00 AM, Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

But Josh, wasn't Democratizing the Greater Middle East floated by the Bush administration just before Sea Island, Georgia, G-8 conference, when it became clear Bush was in trouble with his swift regime change agenda in Iraq? I mean, the initiative never *really* existed.

 
At 7/13/2005 11:54:00 AM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

Syrian Republican Party. No comments. posting just for search engines bots.

 
At 7/13/2005 11:55:00 AM, Anonymous Mohammed said...

This is in regard to the Anonymous post asking whether an Allawi would praise Jews:

I am amazed that this question gets in , or posed as if being a Jew is a crime by itself.

Whoever among all human beings had chosen what or where to be born in?

Obviously, being a Jew should become with our advancement in human terms (those Terms that we think the almighty God wants us all to evolve to) an ordinary and insignificant trait for any human being. Are we all temporary creatures on this planet Earth, or are we here by our choice to make this planet ours for eternity? I mean ours in an ethnic meaning, whether we want it to be Christian, Jewidh, Muslim, Sunni, Allawi, or whatever!!!

I see no wrong in praising Jews when they get so much and daily publicity against them in so many retarded places, and even in the advanced places. They deserve some good words between now and then, not because they did any thing good, but because they had no choice when they were born as Jews, exactly as my self, born to parents who are (in name) Allawis.

So, please, yes, as free human beings, we must be able to praise Jews, Christians, Sunnis, Shias, Allawis, Druze, Budhists, and whatever else.


Mohammed, The Allawi (not by belief).

 
At 7/13/2005 12:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Mohammed. Actually the entire world needs to treat being jewish as “an ordinary and insignificant trait”. This is the sake of the world and the sake of Palestinians! The world currently treats the jews as if they are the majority of the world populations (they are omnipresent in all media) and as if they are the weakest people that need over protection and help! This is why they turn a blind eye to all what Israel does! Please note that I do not associate Israel and jews!! They are two separate things regardless what we think! Furthermore; to satisfy my arabist brothers, the best way to combat jews is to treat them, and persuade the world (read west) to treat them as simple normal citizen and not the privileged of the world and society as it happens today! The world is turning blind eyes bcs of the the guilt they have towards jews and the Palestinians are paying the heavies price for this. Only by teaching to west to treat them as normal and not special (whether bcs of guilt or religious belief or anything) that things will get rebalanced. In addition, we should actually learn a thing or two of them: mostly the way they help and stand up for each other. Have you heard of any jew that has written a “takreer to the mosad” on another jew bcs of “important state security” reasons such as jealousy or bcs that person got a job the other did not get s is the case with us!! Again I am not defending them, but let’s face reality for second here (and for a change)!

 
At 7/14/2005 11:14:00 AM, Anonymous kingcrane said...

Gentlemen,

At the end, we all agree with the following: all politicians are corrupt, and I wished Tarek (who is Lebanese like me) reminded Mohammed that Lebanese politicians (MPs) get far more in kick-backs than the members of the Majles al Sha'b in Syria.

I also think that Nasser was far better with speeches than with action or even vision; his vision pre-supposed that certain events will happen in sequence; when the union with Syria failed, all his dreams became irrelevant.

Religion is crap. Jews are not to be used as the alibi for Arab failures; in fact, some Jews are to be considered as full fledged Arabs. Eric Rouleau is a fine Arab Jew. One of the two co-authors of the recent French authoritative book "AL SIRA" is an Egyptian Moslim who converted from Judaism. And, to top it all, look up the Jewish poet Al Samaw"al (where " is a hamzeh) in your Mounjed.

No, the problem is Zionism, a theory that the General Assembly of the UN equated with racism with an overwhelming majority.

Today's Zionists also include many US senators and congressmen, the Bible Belt Militarists, the neo-cons, and most US media...

This is the enemy. Our own idiosyncrasies about Arabism and culture are to take second stage. The real issue is: are we going to wait until the Zionists get to Aleppo and Lattakia before we get our act together?

 
At 7/14/2005 12:04:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

Re: Memo gives timetable for pullout of most British and US troops.

What is new? The U.S. and U.K. “Gog and Magog” have destroyed other countries in the past for quick cash profit and left those countries to suffer decades of civil wars.

 
At 7/14/2005 12:52:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

Re: Memo gives timetable for pullout of most British and US troops.

What is new? The U.S. and U.K. “Gog and Magog” have destroyed other countries in the past for quick cash profit and left those countries to suffer decades of civil wars, death and destruction in Asia, and the Middle East. Did anyone really expected another outcome this time. OOOOOH you must thought that George Bush and his administration is serious about Democracy in the Middle East.. If that is the case, then why would the Bush Administration go to war against Iraq, murdering Three Hundred Thousands Iraqis, killing over 1700 of his own young men and women, wounding over 20,000 Americans and not against Syria?

After all, Syria is just as, if not more oppressive Baathist dictatorship than Saddam, It is officially the #1 state sponsor of violent terrorist organizations and groups, It is the #1 remaining gross violator of Human Rights (don't tell me North Korea is), It has the worlds largest active Chemical and Biological weapons Programs, it has the worlds largest stock pile of WMD, according to the U.S Central Unintelligence Agency, it has the most advanced active Biological weapon development program, and it has maintained a small research facility for Nuclear weapon that clandestinely smuggled Nuclear material out of Sweden, It occupied another country (Lebanon), it has committed genocide against it's own people killing over 30,000 in Hama alone, and according to the U.S. department of States it is classified as the world number one oppressive dictatorial regime. That is not all, just getting tired off typing. ( Sudan, Missing Iraq WMD, older assassinations of Lebanese officials

So why would George Bush and his administration go to war against Iraq and not Syria? or even seek regime or internal behavior change. YOU GOTTA BE ADUMMY NOT TO KNOW THAT ANSWER.

To answer your other comments. Yes Mr. Landis, the real experienced older Syrian opposition long ago concluded that they have no ally in America nor Israel, not even Arabs or Moslems, they have to rely on few in number Syrians who are committed to Syria and not appearances at the State Department, Halls of Congress, European committees or the Television cameras.

 
At 7/14/2005 01:38:00 PM, Anonymous Mohammed said...

Total agreement with SRP's last post above. Well said.

It is amazing that the US and Europeans criticize every government in the World for human rights abuse, and never mention anything about the sufferings of the Syrian people. It is even more astonishing how they all created this NICE FANTASTIC AURA around the late dictator Assad, as well as for his son since he was being pampered to inherit Syria. I can not understand why the WEST craeted that AURA around the family Assad, and made them look as great, genius, etc... up to the point that I had to conclude that the Assads are even higher in their Heirarchy in the so called NEW WORLD ORDER's Mason movement than say, US presidents themselves, for there is no problem and no total media protection around any of the US presidents - and secrets about them filter out, but never about this dishnourable despicable family of the savages Assad.

Mohammed (The Alawi)

 
At 7/14/2005 07:29:00 PM, Anonymous ALI said...

This is another Alawi responding this time also to kingcrane but about his transferring the discussion to blame ZIONISTS, etc...

I am going to make it short mr. kingcrane; I am fed up and I think most Syrians are fed up with this so called Zionist plots that you are trying to paint for us, as have those who have governed Syria for 40 years, making every whored thing in the name of Zionists, and they have succeeded; becoming the billionaires they are , and traneferring half of the Syrian population to the poverty level, and destroying the relationshiips between Syrians that had existed harmoniously in the past, and killing and jailing thousands upon thousands of the cream of the Syrian Society who could think, to leave the thousands upon thousands of the low education people working for the Mukhabarat, or just begging for a piece of bread. Zionists may be responsible for the long term plot, etc...but how could they accomplish anything without the corruption that this regime has brought the Syrians and Syria to? If there is a Zionist plot, it the Assad regime, and obviously, these so called Zionists have succeeded greatly.....


However, I don't think it was the Zionists that succeeded and are so much the ones pre-occupied with the plots that you are warning us about, it must be the greed of the few families that have governed Syria since 1963, and obviuosly in particular since 1970. I say to the Zionists that you are warning us about: Come brothers, take us over in the open, and I say to the Americans: Take Syria, and make it your client in the open, for we are fed up with the secrecy of what has been going on in Syria in the name of fighting Imperialism, and Zionism. We need to be your client openly, and enough secret deals with the ones who did to Syria worse than what the Mongolians did to the ME when they conquered the area. It is time we are your clients in the open, instead of leaving the Assad family enjoying the role of the secret executionner of the "plot" at our expnse.

 
At 7/14/2005 09:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr ajjan ,it is nice to hear from you,naim/usa

 
At 7/14/2005 11:12:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

Would like to hear from Alawites Syrians but not how oppressed you were or how much the older families treated you. For sure not in a secterian or hostile manner but rather in a way to try to understand your opinion.

 
At 7/14/2005 11:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Ali,
I doubt you are Alawites as you claim.

The whole Baathism ideology and concepts are zioninst, Arsuzi was not Alawites and Aflaq was not Christian, both are Jewish zionists. We have documentation that was obtained from turkey confirming this.

Zionists defended and continue to protect the Syrian Baathist regime. This is how they were able to send Eli Cohen to live in Damascus, this is how Zionist were handed the Golan, this is why for all those years the golan remain in Israeli possession, this is why not a bullet were fired for decades. This is why the entire assets of the State of Syria were removed by the Baathist and invested / given to Jewish bankers in Europe and the United States, totalling over 37 Billions U.S. Dollars. Finally this is why the United States despite the wishes of George Bush otherwise is the CIA protecting the regime and helping the European along quitely.
Don't be fooled by Damascus supporting radicals and palying theatrical episodes here and there. Zionist plans to take control of all of Syria, and with the help of Zionist like you they just may do that.

 
At 7/14/2005 11:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the biggest supportes and defenders of Baath party in Syria to this very hour is Henry Kissinger. GET A CLUE.

 
At 7/14/2005 11:58:00 PM, Anonymous Mohammed said...

Mr. Metaz:

I did not quite understand what you asked Alawis to speak about. May be you are asking to know if there was persecution before the shitty Bathists came to power, and if that is so, I will tell you this:

Allawis were not persecuted in particular. Life was simple enough. Those who lived in the cities enjoyed some modern way of life (Electricity, bathrooms, paved streets), and those who lived in the rural areas (across Syria, not only Alawis) lacked most of those elements, including water. That was to come to them by the force of time anyway... Even in the US, if we are speaking about that time (50 years ago), many rural areas lacked a lot, and they had to heat their homes exactly as Syrians were doing, in rural areas, and in the cities.

Alawis who lived in cities other than Latakieh did not feel persecution per say from other groups, but I think Latakieh was a special place where older rivaleries between Sunnis (City),and Alawis (villages) existed, and so any Alawi who grew up in Latakiah as the F..Assads did may have developped some kind of internal hatred against Sunnis.

Of course, like any other country in the world, people of the cities at that time mocked or laughed at the way the villagers lived or the way they spoke, and like any place on Earth, people surround themselves with their likes, but I do not think there was hatred. There was only a question of looking down at villagers, and that was toward all villagers including the majority of rural Sunnis.

The Assad regime, instead of bringing up the level of rural Alawis exploited the majority of their poor and kept and gave them jobs that required no skills (mukhabarat). By not developping their skills, the Assad regime insured the servive of cheap protectors (though they are given the opportunity to be corrupt and they are, but they are still even with their corruption bought cheaply), and they think they are protecting their good leader (the Assads and their asscociates of few other families like Duba, Aslan, Kanaan). Of course the officers can get rich much more than those cheap labors that you see every where and think that they are the regime. The regime is not those people, but the regime is using those people, and behind those cheap agents hide Sunnis and Christians and Alawis stealing and enriching themselves and no one points a finger at them, but at the Alawis in general because that is what people see. That is not to say that those workers are not getting benefits also, they are, but stupidly, and very crudly. The intelligent thieves are way above that level.

Syria used to be the only country in the whole world where different ethnic groups with different languages and religions all lived peacefully and with a great deal of real love between them until those Bathists came to power, and those basthists, especially the Assadists discovered that they had a grudge against the cities, and that they can exploit every thing for their selfish greed regardless of the price their minority will pay later on, because they simply do not care, and what they care about is their present, and the money they are putting in world banks.

But remember my friends that this regime is not only Alawis. Among the major thieves you have Christians, and Sunnis as well. You may say that those thieves are not the decision makers as many say, but that is not an excuse because it is through them, and with their help and their corruption that the regime is surviving and continues to thrive.

I hope I have answered your question.
Sincerely,
Mohammed, The Alawi.

 
At 7/15/2005 12:08:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 7/15/2005 12:21:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Josh I must say that I found the discussion you're referring to as extremely interesting. It corresponds to the real middle east. For too long this blog has worked on the basic assumption that "there is not problem between communities it’s all a plot done by the regime to divide the people”. The people who participate to this forum are better educated than the average Syrian guy and enjoy an internet connection. And still thay fight each other.

As for the Alawis not being persecuted, my family originated from Syria and I heard enough horrifying stories on this. The fact that the Assads manage to took power proves nothing: they had a window of opportunity (1918-1967) when secterianism was at an historical bottom. But now we're back to the good ol' days.

Division is not the problem. Division is the solution. Use your right to self-determination.

 
At 7/15/2005 07:05:00 AM, Anonymous SSPRS said...

couple Interesting comments at end here, will rspond to it today.

 
At 7/15/2005 08:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

t is not starnge that this regime has invented sectarianism, and has strengthened backaward religious manifestations from building thousands of mosques, to giving so much power to the veil and the clergies. At the same time, this same regime uses the appearance of a society as returning to these religious manifestations to shout loud that the country is in danger of being taken by the Brotherhoods. It is this regime that has fought with all of its power all the other forces that are against mixing religion with the state, and none of those it imprisonned in what some called the "Damascus spring" was a "muslim brother", and it continues to jail all the moderate voices that call for equality among all the sectors of the syrian people. Syria was at the avant guard in the whole Arab world in the philosophy of the separation between the mosque and the state before Assad took power. If the regime is so fearful of the influence of The Muslim Brotherhood, let it then explain to us why it has imprisonned every non anti religious domination thinker in both periods, \when Hafez Assad was in power, and when his holy son is as well\

If the regime's claim is true about Syria turning to Muslim Brotherhood and is scaring teh people and the West with this claim, we should conclude that logic if nothing else necessitates the strengthening of the voices like Aref Dalila, Seif, Homsi, and the hundreds of other thinkers it has imprisonned since Bashar came to power.

 
At 7/15/2005 08:05:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry: one phrase should read : let the regime explain why it imrisonned every anti-religious mix,

not non anti..etc..

 
At 7/15/2005 10:42:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"it is not starnge that this regime has invented sectarianism, and has strengthened backaward religious manifestations from building thousands of mosques"

I read these allegations more than once but are you sure that it is the regime that is building these mosks? Or third parties? Because if it's third parties, there's nothing the regime can do except forbiding the construction of mosks in a muslim country

 
At 7/15/2005 11:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As soon as Hafez Assad came to power in 1970, he started (HE) building mosques in the hundreds across Syria. You may say others built them, of course, but it was he who encouraged that and he who alloacted money and monthly salaries to the clergies all across Syria. This is how he gained power in the first place, relying on the religious fundementalists who were opposiong the secular (nearly communists wing of the Baath party that he overthrew). These fundementalists thought Obviously, that encouraging him to get rid of the Left wing of the party, they would be able later on to get rid of him as well, because he was an Allawite, and thought that he would be an easier target than the other Alawite, Jedid and his wing known as the Jedid - Attasi wing. The Fundementalists were inclined to accept Hafez Assad though he is an Alawite because they thought the other Alawite was the real smart one. Allied with the Saudis, the MBs supported the Assad movement to overthrow the Jedid-Attassi wing. A lot of Saudi money was thrown into Syria to buy popular support for Assad in the eve of his coup in 1970. Possibly it was the Saudi money that also built these hundreds of Mosques across Syria.

It is worth mentioning as well that since the days Hafez Assad practically thought of his coming coup d'etat after the 1967 war, he made his brother Rifaat join the army to establish Saraya Al Difaa , and also his other brother Jamil to establishe an Alawite religious organization to promote Alawism in latakia, something the Jedid-Attasi wing were opposed to, and were shocked by it, but could not fight the minister of defense who was behind it.

 

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