alawis

#Assad’s Alawis and Shiaa celebrate in joy after #Assad killes over 1400 Sunnis in the Chemical Massacre. Have you ever seen such DISGUSTING human beings?! Are they even human?! LITTLE CHILDREN ARE DYING, AND THEY CELEBRATING!
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شبيحة الأسد يغنون احتفالاً بمجزرة الكيماوي بشوارع دمشق
تم تركيب مكبرات الصوت في منطقة البرامكة ووزعت الحلوى في مناطقهم
علت أصوات الغناء والتصفيق في حديقة جامعة دمشق بعد ساعات من مجزرة الكيماوي في غوطة دمشق التي أودت بحياة أكثر من 1300 سوري معظمهم من الأطفال.
وإن كان السوريون اعتادوا ما لا يمكن أن تقبله إنسانية الإنسان من تصرفات ومجازر من الشبيحة، فإن مكبرات الصوت التي تم تركيبها على جسر الرئيس في منطقة البرامكة بقلب العاصمة دمشق، والاحتفالات بين صفوف الشبيحة جعلت السوري فريسة الحقد والخوف.

The Submarine EP means so fucking much to me, it means the world tbh. i wouldn’t choose any other record over it. That EP literally changed my life.

What To Do About Syria: Sectarianism And The Minorities

What To Do About Syria: Sectarianism And The Minorities

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on December 24, 2014

The Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs in Raqqa City

In the last few days I’ve been asked a lot about my longstanding view that the beginning of a Western strategy in Syria is the removal of Bashar al-Assad. The question has come from various angles and been phrased in various ways but it always boils down to: “What comes next?”

The best…

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Why I Love Yifan ♥

Yifan is absolutely beautiful. Beautiful not just physically, but in personality as well. What he does, how he acts, the expressions he makes, he possesses so many wonderful things that make him the most incredible human being and it makes me love him more and more everyday because of them. 

One of the things that I love about Yifan is his smile. Actually lets just go with his lips in general. I mean just look at those things! His eyes and his smile are the first things I always look at when I see a picture of him and they just make me have to smile myself no matter what. His gummy smile is also another thing I adore. It just shows pure happiness and the way his eyes turn up into little crescents and little wrinkles form at the corners and I just adore how he looks like that. His smile is something that brightens my day, its part of why he’s ‘my star’. Stars have always been something special to me. I remember when I was younger, I would sit outside on my patio and just watch the stars at night, and even now, when i have time, I’d always attempt to count how many there were in the sky. But no matter what, stars just make me happy, they make me relaxed and calm and I could just look at them all day. They make me forget about the real world. And thats exactly what Yifan does, so I felt like that was the perfect thing to call him, my star. But anyway! Back to smiles, his smile is just something that takes my breath away and makes my body feel lighter and theres just no other like it in the world, no other smile that makes me cringe because of how cheesy it is sometimes, yet at other times it makes me sigh or laugh or just stare at it for a few minutes. 

Another thing I love about Yifan is the way he is with fans and kids. Everyone at some point saw him as the ‘cold guy’ and at times his demeanor does show it, but then you take a look closer and could just see he is genuinely happy to see them.There’s sincerity in his eyes and a gentleness and kindness in his voice thats found only when talking to them. He seems to put his fans first before himself, always telling them to be careful when they push each other around and whatnot. He is always polite no matter what, even when the fans are a bit out of line and is respectful to them and he puts them into consideration when doing things. A great example would be when he bought a new luggage to carry all the gifts he got so that he wouldn’t disappoint the fans. He was so casual with them and talked with them and signed autographs and even opened some of the presents and took his time to pick out which shirt from the fans to wear and that is just plain precious. It was so sweet and nice to see him being totally and completely normal around them with not a hint of annoyance nor discomfort. He was truly happy to be with them. He even bought chocolates for the fans for white day. If that isn’t adorable, I dunno what is. At the airport when he returned Canada, he had no duty or commitment to acknowledge or interact with the fans because he was there for his own personal business as a regular human being, as Wu Yifan and not Yifan. Yet, he acknowledged them and smiled and waved and talked and took pictures with them and signed autographs for them as well. Even when the fans wouldn’t leave him alone and surrounded both him and his friends/family, he was patient and kind towards the fans, and kept his calm even through this. Yifan cares for his fans. He cherishes them and respects them and loves them in every way possible. At times like this when he couldn’t see inside with his sunglasses on, he still put them back on anyway just to make the fans happy. And before he left, he took his sunglasses off before bowing to the fans. Not to mention that on his birthday he even sang for us. On his birthday guys. He sang for us as a gift. I dunno what guy does that seriously. Yifan is so incredibly humble and real and he acts like he’s normal, like he’s not above us in any way. There is absolutely nothing fake about how much he loves his fans, and he shows it in every action he takes around them. And finally to the kids. Yifan with kids makes me squirm okay. He’s so adorable with them and how he kneels down to their level and just the fascination that spreads across his face and how gentle he is with them and how he’s so playful ugh. 

I love Yifan as a leader. Its no easy job with all the responsibility on your shoulders yet he does it so well. As a leader, they must keep the members in line and make sure that they do what they’re supposed to, and if they don’t, its on him. But yet, despite this stressful job and theres so much pressure on him, he stays on top of things and manages to keep the others in check.  He’s mature and composed and is always ready for whatevers thrown at him. For example,  during interviews he always has an answer to whatever question is thrown at him and is always ready to help the others out if they get stuck. He’s patient with them too, like when Yixing spaces out or forgets something he just naturally takes over and finishes up the answer. He doesn’t get angry or frustrated nor does he put any pressure on them, and instead seems to hold it all for himself. The way he speaks and answers questions is also another thing. His answers are always so thought through and he seems so knowledgeable, like even if he didn’t know the answer, just the way he spoke it and the way he looks so confident gives an illusion as if he was right no matter what. And through all of that insightfulness, could include some strange and amusing comment that I cant help but laugh over or shake my head or simply smile because every time he does that it reminds me of why I love him.

Yifan is not good just as a leader though, but as a friend and brother as well. There are an infinite amount of times when he’s displayed affection towards them or when he’s showed concern for their health and well-being. He’s been known to go out and buy medicine for the others when they aren’t feeling well and pretty much everyone knows that he spoils the members as well… ahem, Tao. He knows they depend on him and he always tries his hardest to make sure that they’re getting everything they need. You can just tell that he really does love the members like family. And really thats just beautiful. 

I love Yifan as an artist. No, not Kriscasso… well that too OTL but just him as a singer, rapper, entertainer, performer. I love his intense gazes at the camera, his wink, his wiiiink and how he sometimes just doesn’t dance the right routine and how he slowly but surely showed his aegyo which everyone was waiting not so patiently for. I love the many times some MC has asked him to rap or sing for them in Chinese or speak in a different language and I must admit, I am addicted to hearing this man speak in Cantonese. Its my first language and his deep voice mixed with that just raises goosebumps for me. He isn’t as great as a dancer as Kai or Lay, nor is he as great a singer as Chen, but he tries hard. You can tell that during some performances where he was asked to sing a little for the fans that he was nervous, but he pushes his comfort zone to show that he is capable. I love it when during Weekly Idol in Random Dance he most definitely was at fault during MAMA and yet he argued anyway and its just so amusing to watch him do so. I love the many times he just randomly danced like in episode 2 of EXO Showtime before they sat down to eat, or how he dances to cover up things like when Minseok left him hanging for a high-five. I love how at first, his persona was someone who was cold and serious and his famous bitch face of course, but then as time passed, he allowed us to see who he really was, someone who wanted to be the lead dancer, leader singer, someone who didn’t think he was a visual, someone who loved to make the strangest jokes or comments, ,someone who does very weird things sometimes, someone who was the complete opposite as to who he was in the beginning, yet still the same. And I’m sure there are still so many sides of Yifan just waiting to be revealed and I can’t wait till we get to see them.

Yifan worked so hard the four years he trained at SM, as did all the other idols and trainees. He was 17 years old when he went to Korea. He didn’t know Korean, nor did he know anybody there. He was alone in a foreign country being asked to sing and dance and learn a new language and on top of everything I’m sure he endured bullying from other trainees for being foreign, and on top of all of that he had to push through this everyday for long hours. I can’t even imagine what it was like for him being away from his family and friends and his home and not being able to turn to anyone. He has said many times that he contemplated quitting, but he didn’t. He worked towards his goals and endured the hardships, making friends and learning many things on the way as well as maturing. He has done so much, and been through so much through these short years but they’ve made him stronger and now here he is, a leader of EXO, someone who can speak four languages and dance and sing and rap. He’s known around the world by so many people and he’s leaving his mark where ever he goes, changing everyone he meets, and others that he hasn’t, people like me. Seeing him cry while winning an award makes me so happy because to him, winning that award, realizing that yes, people do recognize them for their talents, it means the world to him and that all the hard work spent bettering himself didn’t go to waste. I just wish that he could experience this happiness again and again and again in the future and that he realizes just how much of an impact he has on people’s lives. 

And as of recently, when he left exo, it has shown me just how strong of a person he is and how courageous he is. He’s shown me to fight for who I am, and for what I believe in. If it was me in his position, I would’ve never been able to just leave, I would’ve been scared to go against SM, but he wasn’t and that just makes me love him so much more. He was passionate about his dreams to act that he took the necessary actions and hopefully it leads him to where he wants to go — no, I know it will lead him to his place because thats just the type of person Yifan is, he won’t stop till he’s satisfied. 

And this is just gonna be a short paragraph about all the other small things I love about Yifan that just make me adore him even more. Him with eyeliner. The expression he makes whenever someone says ‘EXO-K’ instead of ‘EXO-M’. How he could dress from this, to this. Him in glasses and a ponytail.  When he wears these glasses. Yifan and ace. When he makes this face. And this face.  Also this one. And don’t forget these one. When he acts like a cutie-patootie. His side profile plus different hair styles. His hands oh god his hands. How bout just this post? His kid-like handwriting. How he can look so darn cute in this. How he eats. His tattoo. Yifan as a kid with picture problems. Him and archery. Whatever this is. Pre-debut Yifan. Him during running man. Whenever he pouts. How he looks snowboarding. Basketball Yifan. How bout just this post? Yeah….

Yifan overall is just a beautiful person. I won’t claim that I know him, its impossible that I do, but based on what he’s shown us, its comfortable to conclude that he’s a kind-hearted person who’s a great friend, leader, and someone to trust and lean on.  Yifan isn’t perfect - no bias is. He makes mistakes sometimes, does the wrong thing sometimes, has hurt others, but he has a kind spirit, a tender, loving heart, and a gentle soul, and despite his faults, i think he’s one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever known (not in real life of course).  He’s the most perfect mixture of serious, kindness, playfulness, politeness, style, weirdness, thoughtfulness, caring, strangeness,  childish, ‘not-my-style’ness and just everything wonderful and the thought that someone like him exists in this world makes me very happy. I don’t care what other people think. I don’t care if they only believe in OT11 or whatever, because despite what other people say, I’ll always stick next to Yifan because after all he’s done for me, thats the best I can do for him as a fan. I really cannot wait to see more of him in the future and to discover more things about him to fall in love with. 

updated: 08/01/14

Chaotic Syria

Chaotic Syria | The fate of a region lies in Syrian soil #Syria #ISIS #MiddleEast

~The fate of a region lies in Syrian soil~

It is no secret that Syria is tearing itself apart. Insurgent rebel groups are fighting not just the government but also themselves. It is a battle of everyone against everyone with ISIS being one of the strongest players. However, this conflict is not a war between democracy and communism neither is it a war between Christianity and Islam or Judaism and…

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The Alawis of Syria

The Alawis are a small, but prominent ethnic and religious minority group, who have ruled in Syria for nearly half a century. The origins of the Alawi people are disputed, but dates back as far as 800AD, during the time of the tenth and eleventh Shi’a Imama. Until the 1920’s and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Alawis were known as “Nusairis,” after Abu Shu’ayb Muhammad ibn Nusayr.

Abu Shu’ayb ibn Nusayr was a student of the eleventh Shi’a Imam, Hasan al Askari, and also of the twelfth Imam, Muhammad al Mahdi. He claimed the title of the SFIR or BAB between the Imam and his followers during the Minor Occultation. He was a dissenter of the traditional four Shi’a SFRAE, and declared himelf the sole legitimate deputy to the Imama. ibn Nusayr is most commonly considered the first teacher of the Alawis.  

The Alawis recognize Abū ʿAbdallāh al-Ḥosayn ibn Ḥamdān al-Ḵaṣībī as their founder. Kasibi, an Iraqi man with close ties to the Shi’a Imama, was imprisoned for his open proselytization of his doctrines. He later escaped from prison and fled to northern Syria where he established a secret following of some 51 people whom he referred to as “monotheists.” Kasibi, himself, wrote the majority of prayers and religious texts practiced by the Nusairis.

AL”LWIIN, as they now prefer to be called, take their name after Ali ibn Abi alib, the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet, Muhammad. The Islamic faith reveres Ali for his courage, honesty, his deep loyalty to Muhammad, his belief in the equality of all Muslims and the generosity he showed to his allies and enemies alike.

 Alawis claim themselves as Muslims, but other Muslim denominations, especially conservative Sunnis do not recognize them as such. The Alawi people have proven themselves highly adaptable, or at least to appear this way, a quality that has allowed their small community to survive and to flourish. They have adopted doctrines and traditions from many other religions, especially those of Ismaili Islam and Christianity. They observe many Christian holidays including Christmas, Easter, Petecost and Palm Sunday, as well as the Islamic holidays Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha. Their religious ceremonies incorporate the use of bread and wine, a ritual that was also adopted from Christianity. Like Muslims, however, they believe in the laws of Shariah.

There is little known about the true beliefs of Alawi faith due to the dire secrecy maintained by the Alawi people. Only males born of two Alawi parents are worthy of learning the religious doctrines; upon earning the trust of the elders they are begin to be indoctrinated into the religion piece by piece. Disclosure is punishable by death and it is believed that the individual will be reincarnated as a beast.

The Alawis were persecuted under the Ottoman Empire, and became isolated in the An-Nusayiriyah Mountains after consistent attempts by the Ottoman to try to convert them to Sunni Muslims.  Upon the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Syria came under French occupation. Syria gained her independence on April 17, 1946. It was then ruled by a series of military coups before joining the United Arab Republic in 1958. After three years, a group of army officers mobilized a revolution that led to Syria regaining independence in 1961; it then endured another succession of military coups. In 1963, the Ba’ath Party came to power with the help of some prominent Alawi officers including General Hafez al-Assad and General Salah Jadid. In 1966, the Alawis overthrew the Ba’ath Party and a few years later General Hafez al-Assad took power. In 1971, al-Assad became the president of Syria, whose constitution maintained that the presidential office must be held by a Muslim. In 1973, the law was revised.

 When President Hafez al-Assad died in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad was named President. President Bashar has maintained a majority of the axioms of his father’s regime until today.

Will The Alawis Break With Assad?

Will The Alawis Break With Assad?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on October 12, 2014

A grisly brood: The Assad family

Last Thursday, in Akrama, an Alawi section of Homs City, there was the most extraordinary scene: Alawite anti-Assad protests. A twin bombing at a local school—reported as a suicide bombing by the regime, though there is no evidence for this—had massacred fifty Alawi civilians, most of them pupils. Annexing the…

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The Syrian Civil War: An Alawite State?

Few watching the news about Syria understand the back story, which isn’t about some nationalist strongman refusing to accept the will of democratically minded citizens. Bashar al-Assad is more than the dictator of Syria: he is the leader of the minority Alawis, a people distinct from other peoples in the region, with very different history and culture. Until quite recently, the Alawis were considered by most to not be Moslems, followers of Nusayrism:

Malise Ruthven, Storm Over Syria

Before the twentieth century they were usually referred to as Nusayris, after their eponymous founder Ibn Nusayr, who lived in Iraq during the ninth century. Taking refuge in the mountains above the port of Latakia, on the coastal strip between modern Lebanon and Turkey, they evolved a highly secretive syncretistic theology containing an amalgam of Neoplatonic, Gnostic, Christian, Muslim, and Zoroastrian elements. Their leading theologian, Abdullah al-Khasibi, who died in 957, proclaimed the divinity of Ali, the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, whom other Shiites revere but do not worship. Like many Shiites influenced by ancient Gnostic teachings that predate Islam, they believe that the way to salvation and knowledge lies through a succession of divine emanations. Acknowledging a line of prophets or avatars beginning with Adam and culminating in Christ and Muhammad, they include several figures from classical antiquity in their list, such as Socrates, Plato, Galen, and some of the pre-Islamic Persian masters.

Nusayrism could be described as a folk religion that absorbed many of the spiritual and intellectual currents of late antiquity and early Islam, packaged into a body of teachings that placed its followers beyond the boundaries of orthodoxy. Mainstream Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, regarded them as ghulta, “exaggerators.” Like other sectarian groups they protected their tradition by a strategy known as taqiyya — the right to hide one’s true beliefs from outsiders in order to avoid persecution.

As Ruthven points out, taqiyya is a great blind for the secret police that has controlled Syria for the past four decades: the Mukhabarat.

And, of course, the great division of Islam is that between those that believe in the divinity of Ali,  like Shiites, and those that don’t, like Sunnis. So even if Alawis were considered Moslems, they would be Shiites in a majority Sunni country.

The Alawis subverted the Baathist movement in the ’60s, and have controlled the state ever since, but not motivated by any ideological goal other than the survival of Alawis in an otherwise Sunni majority country.

But it might have been different. The French — who administered the region after WWI, could have carved out an Alawi State, independent of the rest of Syria. In fact, they did, but not for long.

image

The division of Syria under French administration in the 1920s.

Here’s the full back story:

Malise Ruthven, Storm Over Syria

The rise and possible fall of the Assad dynasty would provide a perfect illustration of the Khaldunian paradigm [the inevitable decline of a dynasty after a period of turbulence] under recent postcolonial conditions. Under Ottoman rule the Nusayris were impoverished outsiders struggling on the social margins. In addition to feuding among themselves, they were fierce rivals of the Ismailis, whom they expelled from their highland refuges and castles, forcing them to settle in the more arid lands east of Homs. The Ottoman governors regarded them as nonbelievers and tools of the Shiite Persians: they were not even accorded the dignity of a millet, or recognized religious community.

When the French took over Greater Syria after World War I (including modern Lebanon and parts of modern Turkey), they flirted briefly with the idea of creating a highland Alawi state of 300,000 people separate from the cities of the plains—Homs, Hama, Damascus, and Aleppo—with their dominant Sunni majorities. The French rightly believed that the Sunni majority would be most resistant to their rule. Like other minorities the Alawis, as they preferred to be called, saw the French as protectors.

[…]

The ‘asabiyya [social solidarity based on kinship ties, more or less synonymous with tribalism] of the Alawis was carefully exploited by the French, who polished the Khaldunian model by giving them military training as members of the Troupes Spéciales du Levant. In the turbulent years that followed full independence in 1946, their military know-how proved valuable. Bright members of the sect such as Hafez al-Assad, whose families could not afford to send them to university, joined the armed forces and were drawn to secular parties, such as the Baath (renaissance) party jointly founded by two intellectuals, Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din Bitar, with an agenda explicitly aimed at overcoming sectarian divisions.

It would be wrong to suppose that the Alawis deliberately sought to subvert or take over the Baath or the armed forces. Their primary impulse was their own security. After independence the Syrian parliament abolished the separate representation for minorities instituted by the French, along with certain judicial rights. Nusayri sheikhs and notables encouraged young men to join the Baath because they believed its secular outlook would protect them from Sunni hegemony and persecution. Other minorities, including Christians, Druzes, and Ismailis, tended to join the Baath (or in some cases the Communist Party and Syrian Socialist National Party) for similar reasons. The eventual dominance achieved by the Alawis may be attributed to their highland military background and the default logic by which ‘asabiyya tends to assert itself in the absence of other, more durable structures.

And, here we are today, in what is clearly a civil war. The ruling minority, the Alawis, have deep mistrust of outsiders, and feel that anything is justified in retaining control of their own destiny, which has now become affiliated with their notion of Alawi-dominated Syria.

This is unsupportable to the international community, but rather than accepting widespread ethnic cleansing — on either side — outsiders may have to negotiate the creation of an Alawite State, and the return of the remaining area to a Sunni-dominated Lesser Syria. This may wind up like Serbian and Kosovo, but one from a parallel dimension, where the Kosovars had been ruling over a Greater Serbia before the civil war broke out. Nonetheless, we should step in to stop a civil war heading toward genocide.

Syria Coming to a Boil

By Eric Margolis, March 29, 2011
Libya, in spite of its oil treasures, is strictly a sideshow in the great game of nations. We should be keeping our eyes on highly strategic Syria, a potentially combustible nation of 22.5 million that lies at the very heart of what we call the Mideast.

Sizeable demonstrations have erupted in the Syrian port city of Latakia, Homs, and in three smaller southern towns, including Daraa, where, during World War I, Lawrence of Arabia was captured and tortured by the Turks. There have been small demonstrations in the capital, Damascus. The tough Syrian army has been deployed in many urban areas.

It was inevitable that the revolutions and uprisings sweeping across the Mideast would reach Syria, which has been ruled with an iron hand by the Asad family since 1970. Now, Syria’s neighbors are watching Syria’s gathering storm with a mixture of alarm and uncertainty.

Syria has been isolated for over three decades. Damascus is under siege from the United States because of its opposition to Israel and championing of the Palestinians. US trade and arms sanctions have seriously damaged Syria’s weak economy and military forces.

Persistent hostility from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iraq, all three dominated by the US, have further isolated Syria among the Arabs. Until recently, Turkey and Syria were also at scimitar’s drawn, but relations have greatly improved.

Israel regularly threatens war against Syria because of the vital support Damascus gives to Lebanon’s Hizbullah movement and Palestinians. Israel’s virtual annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights and expulsion of over 125,000 Syrians from the Heights by Israel in 1967, and land expropriation by 19,000 Israeli settlers, remain inflammatory issues. Israeli heavy artillery atop Golan is within range of Damascus.

Syria’s once powerful armed forces are by now almost totally outdated thanks to US sanctions, the collapse of Syria’s main arms supplier, the Soviet Union, and Damascus’ lack of hard cash to buy modern weapons from abroad. As a result, Syria’s 1980’s-vintage air and land forces face Israel’s mighty military machine that could crush Syria in days.

Syria is a highly sophisticated nation whose rich, though often tragic history, dates back to the dawn of time. Damascus is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city on earth. Syria has always been one of the two poles of the Arab world, along with its rival Egypt.

The world-view of Syrians is shaped by the fact that under the Ottoman Empire, Syria, or Shams, as it is called in Arabic, consisted of today’s Syria, Lebanon, parts of Iraq and southeastern Turkey, Jordan, Palestine and much of central and northern modern Israel.

More than half of historic Syria was stripped away by the rapacious French and British during World War I. Syria has never accepted this national rapine.

Syrian-Lebanese relations are particularly fraught because France tore away the Mount Lebanon region from Syria as late as the 1920’s and created the protectorate of Lebanon to maintain French influence on the Levantine coast.

Damascus refuses to accept Lebanon’s independence, insisting it is still an integral part of Syria. The British imperialists did precisely the same thing with the sheikdom of Kuwait, detaching it from historic Iraq. Iraq’s late leader, Saddam Hussein, sought to assert his nation’s historic claim to Kuwait—with dire consequences.

What makes Syria so dangerous and volatile is its repressive and narrow political system. Former strongman Hafez Asad and his son Basher, the current president, come from the Alawi, a small, secretive religious minority from the mountains near Latakia said to be an offshoot of Shia Islam. Sunni Muslims regard the Alawi, who mix Shia and Christian beliefs, as dangerous heretics, even pagans.

In the 1960’s, the armed forces filled up with impoverished Alawis, who had trouble finding work elsewhere. By the time Gen. Hafez Asad seized power in one of Syria’s endless coups, the armed forces and many of the eight or nine secret police organizations, had become dominated by Alawis.

To put down growing unrest to Alawi rule, and attacks by Sunni militants, a draconian Emergency Decree was promulgated in 1963, which remains in force until today. A key demand by protestors in Syria is repeal of this hated martial law that curtails all freedoms and allows summary arrest without trials.

The Asad’s iron hand gave Syria its first and only stable government since World War II. No one knows what will happen if that steely grip is released.

As of this writing, reports are coming from Damascus that President Basher Asad may repeal the Emergency law and amend the constitution which mandates that the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party will be the “leader of Syria’s regime and society.”

Even such an important change might not vent sufficient popular steam to avert a major explosion.

Basher Asad’s challenge is to muzzle the Ba’ath Party Old Guard and enacting important reforms without allowing the lid to blow off pressure-cooker Syria where thirty to forty years of anger, frustration and calls for revenge boil just below the surface.

Some 75% of Syrians are Sunni Muslim. Alawis and Druze, another secretive mountain group, make up about 13% of the population, followed by Kurds, Armenians, Jews, and Circassians, whose Caucasian forebears were victims of Russian ethnic cleansing in the 19th century.

Christian Syrians, who make up 10% of the population, can trace their roots all the way back to the birth of the faith. Many support the Asad regime out of concern their often favored status as part of the commercial elite would vanish under a Sunni-dominated government.

Sunni have long chaffed against rule by “heretical” Alawis, as well as under the two draconian Asad regimes and their feared secret police, the “Mukhabarat.” Islamists have long been active in Syria’s underground, inviting savage repression from the regime.

After invading Iraq in 2003, the Bush administration’s neocon crusaders were eager to attack Syria and overthrow the Asad regime. Israel urged a US attack. Syria was and remains a key ally of Iran, the only Arab one, and Tehran’s beachhead in the Levant. Note that Syria’s Alawi are close to Iran’s militant Shia.

But it soon occurred to even the dullest minds of the Bush White House that if the devil-we-know-Asad is overthrown, who would replace him? The unavoidable answer was the Muslim Brotherhood—and that term frightened Washington a great deal. So Syria was spared.

This time around, if the Asad regime falls, it could just as well be replaced by Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, that may be thirsting for revenge. A bloodbath could ensure, plunging Syria into political chaos and violence and running the risk of drawing Syria’s unloving neighbors and the Western powers, notably France, into the fray.

Events inside Syria are far too complex for Washington to understand right now. Ending sanctions against Syria, restraining Israel’s interventionist hawks, and applauding democrats from the sidelines is the best thing the US can do for the time being. Syria is no place for the usual US bull in the china shop behavior.

Book Review: The Struggle For Mastery In The Fertile Crescent (2014) by Fouad Ajami

Book Review: The Struggle For Mastery In The Fertile Crescent (2014) by Fouad Ajami

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 16, 2014

In June, those of us who try to keep up with events in the Greater Middle East suffered a devastating blow when the Lebanese-American scholar Fouad Ajami passed away. Having broken with the orthodoxy of his generation of Arabs and his scholarly field, both represented in the person of Edward Said, Ajami provided insight into the Arab/Muslim world…

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