The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

Is Israel slyly inciting genocide against Alawites as prelude to creation of Kosovo-style enclave in Syria?

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­By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
July 11, 2012

Within the past week, fellows at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies have used rather unfortunate analogies to describe the plight of Syria’s besieged Alawite minority. The comparison of the Alawites to two of the region’s least popular interlopers in Arab and Muslim memory was hardly calculated to endear them to an already resentful Sunni majority.

Writing in the neoconservative flagship Weekly Standard on July 6, Tony Badran claimed:

Bashar al-Assad’s campaign against his Sunni adversaries recalls the strategy employed by the Crusaders, as invading European armies fortified themselves against various Muslim coalitions in the Levant, from the 12th to the 13th century. Indeed, the Crusader castles dotting the Western part of Syria may give us some sort of insight into the regime’s military thinking, and perhaps a preview of its future.

Three days later, Jonathan Kay wrote an oddly sympathetic piece in Canada’s staunchly pro-Israel National Post:

A small, marginalized people, kicked around the Middle East for centuries by Muslim empires, finally carves out an independent home for itself on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. But life remains precarious: Islamists seek to delegitimize the newly established homeland, declaiming the ruling sect as a gang of infidel occupiers. Now, the simmering hatred of the occupied people finally has transformed into an unstoppable political and military intifada — cheered on by Western human-rights advocates.

The country I have just described is Syria. For all the pathological hatred that President Bashar Assad and his father Hafez have focused on Israel, the histories of the two countries betray some striking similarities. And those similarities help explain why the Assad clan and its hangers-on refuse to be dislodged from Damascus.

Like Israel’s Jews, members of the Alawi sect in Syria regard their control of the nation as an existential issue. There is only one Alawi state, just as there is only one Jewish state, and its destruction would mean the end of the Alawis as a political entity on the world stage — probably forever. With the passage of generations, it might even mean their gradual assimilation into other nations, as with Zoroastrians, Samaritans and a hundred other now-obscure Middle Eastern peoples.

It may be just a coincidence that in the space of a few days two fellows from the same pro-Israel think tank that has been in the forefront of calls for regime change in Damascus compared the ruling Alawites to Crusaders and Israeli Jews. However, given Israel’s record of fomenting strife in the region along ethnic and religious lines, the possibility that these articles are part of a deliberate campaign of incitement should not be discounted.

Over the past year, there have been a number of intriguing references in the Israeli press to the Jewish state’s purported concern for the plight of the Alawites. In an August 3, 2011 op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, John Myhill wrote:

At some point, as the civil war in Syria develops, the Alawites will have no choice but to retreat to their mountain stronghold in the northwest and appeal for military assistance to protect them and help them establish their own state there (as they unsuccessfully petitioned the French in the interwar period).

From personal contact with Alawites, I know that they are already beginning to discuss the possibility of appealing to Israel for help. If they do – and they probably will at some point – and the international community does not help them, Israel should step in to aid the Alawites, which would also mean helping their Shi’ite allies, who will by that point be similarly embattled.

According to Myhill, this humanitarian act would also have strategic benefits for Tel Aviv:

The result would be the formation of a bloc of states in the western Levant which would share the common interest of avoiding Sunni domination. For the first time, Israel would have actual state allies in the region, as opposed to temporary peace treaties.

Then in early January this year, Haaretz reported the same humanitarian impulse from an even more unlikely source:

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said Tuesday that Israel is preparing to absorb Alawite refugees once Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime collapses, which he expects to happen in the coming months.

Analyzing the IDF’s improbable humanitarianism, the Beirut-based political analyst Ghassan Dahhan observed:

Let’s assume that Israel’s analysis is correct in which Assad would fall after which a civil war erupts in Syria between Sunnis and Alawites. Given the sectarian composition of Syrian society the Alawites would find themselves at the end of the gun barrel, and an exodus could take place in similar vein with the Christians of Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Looking for safe refuge, many Alawites might feel forced to accept Israel’s offer to be resettled in the Golan and subsequently seek its protection from the Syrian Sunni majority.

The current population of the Golan currently stands at less than a hundred thousand, consisting mostly of Druze. Even a minor flow of Alawite refugees to the Golan would thus have significant demographic consequences for the configuration of the territory’s society. The Israeli occupied Golan would in effect be turned into de-facto Alawite enclave. For Israel to grant Alawite refugees legal status would be unacceptable to most Israelis, especially if the size of refugees is tangible.

The option that would render Israel the best position is to encourage the creation of a Kosovo-style Alawite state.

The reference to Kosovo brings to mind an article in the Atlantic from almost two decades ago, in which Robert D. Kaplan predicted the inevitable Balkanization of Syria:

Syria will not remain the same. It could become bigger or smaller, but the chance that any territorial solution will prove truly workable is slim indeed. Some Middle East specialists mutter about the possibility that a future Alawite state will be carved out of Syria. Based in mountainous Latakia, it would be a refuge for Alawites after Assad passes from the scene and Muslim fundamentalists—Sunnis, that is—take over the government. This state would be supported not only by Lebanese Maronites but also by the Israeli Secret Service, which would see no contradiction in aiding former members of Assad’s regime against a Sunni Arab government in Damascus.

Could it be that Tel Aviv and its American lobby are slyly inciting genocide against the Alawites as a prelude to the creation of an Israel-dependent Kosovo-style enclave somewhere in Syria? This would certainly be in keeping with the strategy for the Middle East outlined in the early 1980s by Oded Yinon, as summarized by Khalil Nakhleh:

The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states. Small here will depend on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel’s satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation.

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Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

July 11, 2012 at 10:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

7 Responses

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  1. An excellent piece giving plenty of food for thought.

    Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

    July 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm

  2. Canada’s National Post is not just “pro-Israel”, it’s the flagship of Muslim hating Zionist Jewish Israel Asper family owned CanWest which owns over 68% of Canada’s mainstream media. All the other newspaper and the writers mentioned in the article are listed on Israel Habara Committee. Most of them ran a similar campaign lies against Libyan leader Qaddafi and currently are fueling Shia-Sunni divide in the Middle East.

    If one read the Crusade history through some objective sources – he will find out that most of these “Kosher Wars” were funded by Europe’s Jewish elites. They did not care for the 137,000 Jews were killed in Muslim Spain (1492) and the entire Jewish population of Jerusalem (1099) by the Christian Crusaders and the Franks.

    Syria’s Alawite, though consider themselves to be a “Shia branch” – but they neither pray nor believe in Islamic Shari’ah. One will no see a mosque in Alawite villages and towns.

    Assad family belongs to Ba’athist (a socialist atheist political organization). He is very popular among Syrian army and the country’s business community. The regime change in Baghdad will only come when the Syrian army dump Bashar al-Assad. Israel and other foreign invaders will have to face Hizbullah along with Syrian army. And Hizbullah know how to make the Jewish army run – as it proved in 2000 and 2006.

    http://rehmat1.com/2010/08/27/hizbullah-changed-the-me-in-2006/

    rehmat1

    July 11, 2012 at 10:28 pm

  3. Franck Salameh, an assistant professor of Near Eastern Studies, Arabic and Hebrew at Boston College, writes of “An Alawite State in Syria?” in The National Interest:

    And so today’s strings of wanton murders, sexual assaults, torture, arbitrary detentions, targeted bombings and destruction of neighborhoods—and what they entail in terms of displacements, deportations and population movements—are nothing if not the groundwork of a future Alawite entity; the grafting of new facts on the ground and the drafting of new frontiers. No longer able to rule in the name of Arab unity (and in the process preserve their own ethnic and sectarian autonomy), the Alawites may retreat into the Levantine highlands overlooking the Mediterranean. The area in question is a sanctuary that the Alawites called home for centuries and which the French helped them create and protect as an autonomous “ethnic state” during the first half of the twentieth century.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    July 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm

  4. Interestingly, Salameh is featured on a list of Recommended Professors whom the pro-Israel Campus Watch “consider thoughtful and balanced.”

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    July 11, 2012 at 11:33 pm

  5. From the Jerusalem Post:

    Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara reveals for first time that Israeli government representatives are working in Jordan on aiding injured Syrians who escaped the Assad regime.

    Call me cynical, but it’s hard to believe that this is a purely humanitarian mission.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    July 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm

  6. […] for Defense of Democracies fellow Lee Smith provocatively compares Syria’s increasingly imperiled Alawite minority to the most reviled group in modern history. In a piece revealingly entitled “Cause for […]


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