No matter what, McRINO and cohorts are buying their Middle East advice from Huma Abedin and Willary Clitman:
Eventually, the truth will out. Despite the denials, righteous sunni Muslims, Â supported by Obama, al Qaeda and misguided congress critters, Â are sharpening their knifes for the coming slaughter of the ruling Alawites, Christians, Druse and Shiites.
Yes, if we just help the Muslim Brotherhood take over one more country, they’ll see what swell guys we infidels Â are. That’s why that U.N. resolution vetoed today by Russia and China was so wonderful. With total logic and impartiality, it told Bashar al-Assad to pull his troops out of Syrian cities, leaving the wonderful Twitter-using, democracy-loving, Israel-hating (They deserve it for refusing to be annihilated for the sake of creating the second “Palestinian” state, which would also be the 23rd Arab Muslim stateâ€”but hey, when something is that awesome, the more the better.), Christian-massacring (They deserve it for not wanting Shariah.) rebels with no oppositionâ€”because how it should be.
And if the Muslims didn’t stop wanting to blow up us and take us over then, once Syria joins the Caliphate they will be so happy and so fulfilled that surely the tiny minority of excremists will all turn into gourmet chefs and video game designers and the Religion of Peaceâ„¢ will show its true face.
The sectarian divisions in Syria’s violent uprising
Sectarian divisions have simmered throughout Syria’s 17-month-long uprising, but these lines have become increasingly pronounced as the political upheaval turns more violent.
In fact, Middle East experts worry that sectarian violence could explode if the Assad regime falls and retribution becomes the order of the day.
Here’s a look at the religious groups that make up Syria:
Sunni Muslims account for 74 per cent of the entire Syrian population. They are in the majority in every part of the country except for southern Al-Suwayda and northwestern Latakia.
Ordinary Sunnis also comprise the bulk of the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Some Sunni elites are among its supporters, but that support has been cracking, as witnessed in the recent round of high-level defections.
Defections from the armed forces have been largely by Sunni generals, according to reports. AÂ high-level diplomatic defectionÂ in early July was also by a Sunni Muslim, the Syrian ambassador to Iraq, Nawah al-Fares.
Fares had served in the ruling Baath Party and as governor of Latakia, a region dominated by the minority Alawites, the Assad family sect that makes up much of the country’s elite and general staff.
Assad’s wife, Asma al-Akhras, is from a prominent Sunni Muslim family from Homs.
The Alawites make up only 12 per cent of Syria’s population of 22.5 million but they have dominated the country for the past four decades. The minority Shia Muslim sect celebrates certain Christian rituals, such as Christmas and Easter, which makes them seem like heretics to many Muslims.
The second largest religious group in Syria, most Alawites live in the northwestern Mediterranean port city of Latakia and nearby mountains. And there are also large numbers of them in some of the nicer areas of Damascus.
The Syrian president’s father, Hafez, came from a poor Alawite family. With his rise to power in a 1970 coup, the fortunes of the Alawites also rose.
Hafez filled key political and military positions with fellow Alawites and today an estimated 70 per cent of the military’s elite units is said to be made up of Alawites.
Many members of the feared pro-Assad militia called Shabiha are also from this minority religious group. “Most importantly, the key elements within the armed forces are made of the Alawite minority,” observes Peter Fragiskatos of the University of Western Ontario. He says that a key sign of cracks in the regime would be defections from that group.
Though powerful in today’s Syria, the Alawites were oppressed through much of their history. That changed when Ottoman rule ended with the First World War and France took over the mandate of what is now Syria and Lebanon and, some historians said, deliberately incited sectarian divisions to suppress Arab nationalism.
Christians constitute about one-tenth of the Syrian population, or about two million people. This religious group is divided into a number of churches, including Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Syrian Catholic, Maronite and Protestant.
Many of Syria’s Christians have not abandoned their support for Assad or their Alawite neighbours, fearing being ruled by an Islamist Muslim Brotherhood if Assad is overthrown.
However, Syria expert Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma,Â noted to USA TodayÂ that there are also plenty of Christians in Syria who “believe that democracy in the long run is the best protection for Christians.”
“Syria expert Joshua Landis” has his head up his ass. OnceÂ the MuBro’s take over, the Christians will be annihilated Â or driven out.
by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi and Oskar Svadkovsky—The American Spectator
It’s become an article of faith among policy makers and analysts in the West that Syria is a nation of minorities. Various sources put the share of non-Sunni Muslim minorities at around one quarter of the population. These minorities are believed to constitute the bulk of the support base of the Syrian regime. Some ventured as far as to suggest that the regime was deliberately stoking sectarian tensions with the massacres in Houla and Qubeir in order to consolidate its minority support base.
The commonly accepted percentages of Syrian minorities are: Alawites and Shia — 13%, Christians — 10%, and Druze — 3%. Syria, however, does not collect or publish data related to the sectarian composition of its population and trying to track the origin of common estimates usually leads nowhere.
For example, all observers commenting on Syria believe that Syrian Druze live primarily in Jabal al Druze and constitute 3% of the Syrian population. This claim, however, does not square with the results of Syria’s last population census.Â According to the census, in 2004 the population of the province of Sweida, where Jabal al Druze is located, had only 313,231 inhabitants against 17,920,844 of the total population of Syria. This makes for 1.7% and not 3% of the population. On top of this, in 2004 the birth rate of Sweida stood at 1.7% against the national average of 2.5%. At this rate, discounting migration flows between Syrian provinces, by 2012 Sweida should have already shrunk to 1.6%, including not only the Druze but also a sizeable Christian community in the city of Sweida and some Muslim population.
Activists in Sweida often explain the low level of Druze participation in the Syrian uprising byÂ widespread emigrationÂ of young Druze. Many young Druze have left the unemployment-stricken provinceÂ for greener pastures. If they left for Damascus and other bigger cities, this could compensate for the decline of Sweida’s share in the general population. The contention that Syrian Druze remain concentrated in Jabal al Druze would be still wrong, though. Yet,Â according to the same sources, many of these young people have emigrated out of the country altogether. If true, it leaves almost a half of the estimated Druze population unconfirmed.
Another case in point are Syrian Christians who are generally believed to have declined from 14% in 1943 to 10% today. Syria Comment is one of the most comprehensive blogs and link aggregators on Syria. One of its contributorsÂ EhsaniÂ recently estimated that Christians make up only between 4% to 5% of Syria’s population. Ehsani attributed this dramatic decline, again, to emigration and anemic birth rates.
Ehsani’s research into the subject was triggered by a conversation with a priest in Aleppo who remarked on his futile attempts to dissuade young Christians from emigrating. It turned out that Christians priests and bishops in Aleppo keep track of the families under their respective churches as well as the births and marriages of their members. After the examination of available data, Ehsani’s conclusion was that the share of Christians in the population of Aleppo is not 12% as claimed by Wikipedia and other sources, but can be as low as 3.5%.
The difference in birth rates between Syrian provinces, by the way, can be rather dramatic. In Sweida, Latakia, and Tartous, the three provinces with a Druze or Alawite majority, the birth rate ranged in 2004 from 1.7% to 1.9%. In the heavily Sunni provinces of Idlib, Deraa, and Deir ez Zor, it was 3.1%.
The census of 1943 put the share of the Sunni population at 69%. Almost 70 years later, it’s estimated to have grown only to 74%. Yet, considering the emigration and paltry birth rates of the non-Sunni minorities, it seriously beggars belief that they can be still retaining a share of as much as 26% of the population .
As far as Syria’s most important minority is concerned, the consensus goes, the Alawites dominate Syria’s armed forces. At the very least they dominate that part of the army that remains loyal to Bashar Assad, while the rest of the army is locked in barracks.
Yet, this estimation of the sectarian composition of the Syrian army conflicts with numerous interviews with army defectors published during the last year. According to their presentation of the situation in their units, the rank and file soldiers appear to be mostly Sunni. True, many officers seem to be Alawites, but other officers don’t.Â David EndersÂ who traveled to Idlib with a convoy of UN monitors, used that opportunity to interview government soldiers unobstructed by the presence of minders. The soldiers told him that four months ago the commander of their unit defected himself and started a rebel brigade. It’s highly unlikely that that officer was an Alawite.
According to the census of 2004, the combined population of Latakia and Tartous does not reach even 9% of the population. It’s true that there is a significant Alawite presence outside the Alawite heartland. But it’s also true that the numbers for Tartus and Latakia also include a significant Sunni minority. Cities like Banyas in Tartous and even the capital of Latakia itself are majority Sunni. In fact, parts of Latakia are now infested with insurgents. So it’s not that Syria is teeming with Alawites, either.
Besides, the notion of an Alawite-dominated Syrian army simply does not square with the daily death tolls published by the Syrian official agency which list both the names and home provinces of fallen soldiers. For example, on June 9, one of the bloodiest days for the Syrian army until now, 57 army and law-enforcement martyrs were laid to restÂ according to the official SANA. To these Tartous and Latakia had contributed ten martyrs. While it’s more than their share in the population, they are hardly dominating the list. “We all know that most of the security forces shooting at us and killing us are Sunnis, not Alawites, ” a Sunni activist from the Damascus suburb of Douma was quoted byÂ Phil SandsÂ on Jun 21, 2012.
As the civil war in Syria has escalated and taken on an increasingly sectarian dimension, many observers took to predicting a prolonged and drawn out conflict. With the minorities rallying behind the regime of Bashar Assad, these people reason, the regime can mobilize enough support in the population and armed forces to delay the inevitable. They are wrong. Wikipedia notwithstanding, Syria is not such a nation of minorities as it used to be in 1943. Neither these minorities are present in Syria’s armed forces in such overwhelming numbers. Their loyalty alone is not enough to prolong the agony.
It remains a very underappreciated fact, but at the beginning of the uprising the regime in Syria was commanding loyalty of a significant section of its Sunni Arab population.
Since the beginning of the uprising and until quite recently, reporters in Damascus have repeatedly noted that the regime appeared to enjoy widespread support among urban classes in the capital that transcended sectarian affiliations.
A rebel leader in Aleppo, quoted byÂ Anthony LoydÂ on June 19, 2012, has confirmed that many Sunnis in the province joined the pro-government shabiha militias and identified two clans, the Bari and Baqqarah, as supporters of the regime in Aleppo. With more than one million members, the Baqqara is also a major tribe in Deir ez Zor.
Even the notion of the Syrian uprising as a poor Sunni man revolt does not do full justice to this reality. According toÂ Phil Sands, as late as January of this year, a senior tribal figure in the impoverished Deir ez Zor estimated that the Sunni tribesmen in the province were still almost evenly split between supporters and opponents of the regime.
It’s this hidden minority of Sunni supporters that was keeping the regime on its feet until now. Losing this support to the sectarian polarization would set the regime on fast track to oblivion.
Meanwhile, according to theÂ latest reportsÂ from Deir ez Zor, the alliance between the Sunni tribes in the province and the regime finally unraveled at last. But, once it happened, large chunks of the province and the city of Deir ez Zor quickly fell under opposition control. This is not the first time that the opposition has taken over center of the city of Deir ez Zor. But this was the first time a government-assault to recapture the city was repelled, leaving the streets of Deir ez Zor strewn with destroyed tanks and other military equipment.
At stake have been most of Syria’s oil and control over the border with Iraq which is known to be used to smuggle weapons and foreign fighters into the country. In fact, Deir ez Zor has well-armed and battle-hardened tribal allies on the Iraqi side of the border. Bashar Assad had been having it bad enough in Homs. But “Benghazi” turned out to be an even tougher nut, with the Free Syrian Army claiming toÂ control 70% of Deir ez-Zor.
Now,Â as fighting reaches Damascus itself, with theÂ Defense Minister reportedly killedÂ in a suicide bombing, things look ever more bleak for the regime. The end appears to be at hand, with chaos set to rule the day. Where is thisÂ supposed Syrian army of more than 600,000Â now?
Aymenn Jawad Al-TamimiÂ is a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and an adjunct fellow at the Middle East Forum. Oskar Svadkovsky is a computer networking professional based in Tel Aviv, and the owner of theÂ Happy Arab News ServiceÂ blog. He graduated in Indian and Chinese Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.