Information about this mysterious opposition, which had long originated in the Alawite military environment, was hardly available for the penetration of tseerushnyh agents and even for any indirect information, appeared in the issue of the German newspaper «Die Welt». The material was prepared by collaborating Western publications that are members of the LENA Alliance (“Leading - European Newspaper - Alliance”). Along with Die Welt, this includes the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the Spanish El País, the Belgian Le Soir, the French Le Figaro, and the Swiss La Tribune de Genève and Der Tagesanzeiger. The author of the article in the newspaper “Die Welt” is Daniel Dylan-Böhmer.
The journalist notes that at present the president of Syria is “apparently stronger than ever.” However, the “ethnic group” has spread the “symbol of faith” - a truly “revolutionary” document (available in the Die Welt editorial board). This letter "can turn the tide in a war."
In Syria, things could have been different, from the very beginning, since the summer of 2011, the correspondent indicates. At the beginning of that summer, there was no trace of a “riot” in the country. Several young people, dissidents, were brutally treated by representatives of the security services. The brutality of “individual officials” was what was at the time, and not about the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad and not about the future of Syria. And not about religion, reminds the journalist.
And now, almost five years have passed. At least 250.000 Syrians were killed, more than eleven million lost their homes, almost five million left the country. Bashar al-Assad is still the president of Syria.
In the West, they are still calling for his resignation, and Sunni monarchies throughout the region are constantly sending opposition weapon and money, "investing" the overthrow of Assad. However, Assad and his Alawites successfully defended the Russian air force and Iranian special forces.
Negotiations are underway in Geneva. The survival of the Alawite religion (“tiny,” the author points out) “seems to determine the course of world politics.”
And yet there is a reason due to which the situation can be seen quite differently.
For the first time, “officials from among the influential Alawites have distanced themselves from the Assad regime,” writes Dylan-Böhmer. These people want peace with the Sunnis and want to "reveal the secret nature of their faith."
Many of them are priests, which makes this group a much more dangerous opposition for Assad, since the military apparatus is permeated with Alawite religious structures. And if the opposing force is created, Assad will have "little chance."
In an unknown place of the planet in a good hotel sits an "elegant gentleman," telling about his native Syria and his fellow Alawite. And he says this:
"The current regime is totalitarian, and it does not represent the Alawites."
In order to make peace, these rulers must go. It was the Alawites in the government that caused this catastrophe in Syria. They still feed it.
In the beginning it was not a confessional conflict, an unknown interlocutor indicates. The population simply put forward political demands. But the country's leadership, fearing the overthrow, began to "exploit sectarian differences."
A person in a good hotel is “not an old dissident and not an opponent of the regime in exile.” There are people living and working in Syria who have supported the political system for many decades. There are officials, politicians, priests and the military, who no longer want to live in the old way.
These people managed to unite and wrote a document in which they set out their views and gathered allies. They want to "radically change things."
Correspondents of a number of publications checked the data of these people and carefully studied the issue. As far as can be judged in the conditions of war, influential representatives of the Alawite elite really support this initiative. These people do not name their names for reasons of personal safety.
The Alawite faith in the document is referred to as the “third model of Islam”, as “transcendental Islam” (the supernatural dimension of faith). While traditional Shiite and Sunni Islam are trying to “understand the message of God,” “transcendental Islam” is viewed as “an attempt to understand the nature of God.”
For ten centuries, the Alawites have not publicly declared the postulates of their faith. They were brutally persecuted by both Shiites and Sunnis. Shiites, for example, worship Ali, a cousin, son and successor of the Prophet Muhammad, and for Alawites Ali not only a religious leader, but also a manifestation of God. Orthodox Muslims condemn this polytheism: Alawites are “worse than infidels.”
In their statement, the authors clearly indicated that the Qur'an is the only holy book of the Alawites. However, they believe that each person must find his own way to God. They distance themselves from Sunni extremists, who get the source of criminal justice literally from the Koran.
They say in their letter about politics.
In their opinion, the ruling political power does not represent them and does not determine their identity. Belonging to Alawites should not be the basis or source of power. The legitimacy of government can be measured in the principles of democracy and fundamental human rights. Political power should not under any circumstances oppress the people, acting out of fear of losing legitimacy. As for the opposition, it should resort to other means, renouncing violence, weapons and intimidation.
Members of the elite Alawite group believe that the current uprising against Assad is "a set of righteous anger." The authors emphasize that they want peace with the Sunnis, who make up a large part of the armed opposition. They "declare" that the Sunnis of Syria must be justified and not have "collective responsibility" for the acts of discrimination that some of their co-religionists have committed in the past.
Some fragments of the letter resemble the already well-known accusation against Bashar al-Assad, who intentionally inflamed religious conflict. The fear of radical Sunnis (IG, Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda) is still the main reason why most Alawites, despite growing internal criticism, are outwardly loyal to the Assad regime. However, no less than 70.000 Alawites died in the war. This is less than a third of all victims, but an ethnic group of only two million people considers this amount to be an existential disaster. And they want to stop the "suicide of their ethnic group."
Another member of the group (in the newspaper, he is simply called “sheikh”) indicates that in Syria “in each family at least one relative was killed, and you will meet many mothers who have lost four sons and a husband”. According to him, all men aged up to 42 years are forced to go to war, and soon the age limit will be raised to 45 years. “This is a war on behalf of the Alawites,” said the sheikh, “and in fact our people pay a high price for it. Especially ordinary citizens. "
If Bashar does not immediately leave power, it will be impossible to save the state, the Alawite oppositionists believe. The materials at the disposal of Die Welt and other publications of LENA show that there is “broad support for the initiative of these influential people.” They themselves declare that they represent from one third to 40% of the Alawite community. How true is this statement? This can hardly be verified.
But for what purpose did the organizers of the movement turn to the press and why did they open to the public right now?
“There will be no rebellion,” says one politician. “We hope to save the Alawites from the fear accumulated in recent years.”
Syria should not become a failed state like Libya or Iraq. If Bashar Assad does not resign right now, then the state will not continue, say the Alawi oppositionists. With the power of Asad, "nothing can change." Therefore, Syria needs a “political transition under international control.”
Who can replace Assad?
Western intelligence services have gotten it on that the Alawite elite is quite seriously discussing a plan to transfer power to some kind of Assad's successor. These special services "even tried to intervene" in the case, but this was not possible "because of the impenetrability and mystery" of the Alavitic environment.
A certain "intelligence agent from the Western Alliance" claims that even at the very beginning of the conflict, in 2011, contacts were made with officers who could later replace Assad. “But these attempts were unsuccessful,” he said. “Only then did we realize how little we actually know about the Syrian military elite.”
As a potential successor to Assad is Suhail Hassan, a relatively young commander of the Tiger units. His special forces won a lot of victories.
There is another candidate - Lieutenant General Ali Habib Mahmud (Ali Habib Mahmud), one of the most senior and most experienced officers of the regime. In 2011, he allegedly "disappeared", then appeared in Turkey, then a rumor passed that he was "dead." According to the German newspaper, the general is alive and well. Moreover, he "never left Syria."
The Kremlin has repeatedly signaled: he does not approve of leaving Bashar Assad. Of course, the Alawite initiative group was thinking about Moscow. But no less important is the support of the West. Only with an international solution, Alawites will be able to survive in the long term.
One of the initiators of the "symbol of faith" explained that they could easily have imagined the Sunni president. In this case, Alawites should be involved in resolving issues. This would be good both for Russia and for the West, and for all interested parties. If the president does not represent the Alawites, then community leaders can nominate their representatives to negotiate the future of Syria with other groups. Negotiations should concern everyone, even “extreme Islamists.” Only foreign fighters will not have the right to participate in the negotiations. “If the Alawites are full participants in the negotiations, it will strengthen the credibility of the government. Then we can all count on a peaceful outcome, ”says one of the initiators of the letter.
What do Russian experts think about this letter?
Orientalist Sergey Medvedko, who has worked in Syria for more than ten years, is the deputy head of the channel “Rusia al-yaum”, the author of the book “All Syria”, believes that there is some discontent with Assad among the Alawites that really exists.
“The dynasty of Assad has ruled Syria since 1970. And, no matter how skillfully leaders may lead, in any case there is always a request for the turnover of power, the expert said "Free Press". “So such ideas are really in the air, including among the Alawite community.” Another thing is that in conditions of war, the withdrawal of Assad would have led to tragic consequences - the extermination not only of the Alawites as part of Syrian society, but also of Christians. ”
Apparently, we are dealing with the interpretation of the situation by a part of the Western expert community, which is looking for a recipe for eliminating Assad from power, said Sergei Balmasov, senior analyst at the Center for the Study of the Crisis Society, expert at the IMDU and the Middle East Institute.
“Of course, among some Alawites, mainly intellectuals, there is some dissatisfaction with the president,” he said in an interview with Free Press. - However, as in any elite. In the SAR, such processes are related, including the redistribution of posts, resources that come from Iran. But to say that a serious opposition has matured against Assad among the Alawites and a coup is possible tomorrow - a great exaggeration. For the Alawites, such a scenario is tantamount to suicide ... ”
If you take a closer look at the publication of Die Welt, we add to this, it becomes clear: its author does not at all argue that the Alawite elite has a serious influence in society. According to the initiators themselves, they represent about a third of the Alawite community. Moreover, the journalist doubts the accuracy of these statements.
Therefore, one can hardly talk about some kind of “interpretation” of the situation by the West. The material in the German edition is quite objective, and the author shows a lot of healthy skepticism about the initiative. In addition, Dylan-Böhmer notes that the president of Syria is now “apparently stronger than ever.”
It is difficult to say whether the situation with the “creed” at the negotiations in Geneva will become clearer. If opposition Alawites did not give their names, they are unlikely to manifest themselves in international negotiations.
Observed and commented on Oleg Chuvakin
- especially for topwar.ru
- especially for topwar.ru