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‘Protecting the minorities’ slogan obscures the massacre of minorities

Maamun Jaabari writes for the Syrian Observer on the demographic change within the Alawite community
‘Protecting the minorities’ slogan obscures the massacre of minorities

The Syrian authorities have used the slogan that they are “protecting the minorities” to promote and justify their war against the Syrians, who rebelled, from the start, demanding a host of democratic reforms. These demands were met with waves of arrests and systematic media campaigns that aimed to influence international public opinion and convince the world that those mobilizing the demonstrations are the traditional plotter against the country, who are affected by the confrontation of the resisting state. These enemies, from the regime’s point of view, are manipulating a group of the Syrian hallucinated people, who just aggravated their demands when they saw that the regime is dodging and diluting the people’s rightful demands and using all its coercive and media powers to break the will of people.


The authorities have resorted to adapting their media messaging according to the circumstances, dealing with the demonstrations on the one hand, and international will on the other. The regime’s main aim is ending the public revolt without having to enact any real reform, since such changes might threaten its structure. The most repeated idea that the regime has promoted in its messaging is that it is doing its duty to protect the minorities in Syrian society, and that [targeting] these minorities is the hidden objective of the revolution.


From the outset of the peaceful movement, the regime began preparing to prove its theory about the minorities’ threatened existence in case the Syrian revolution succeeded. To do so, the regime planted a group of agents within the body of the peaceful uprising to chant extremist slogans— “Alawites to the coffin and Christians to Beirut”—during the demonstrations. But the regime did not realize that it would not be able to disarm the very fighters it encouraged to take arms. With the regime in deep crisis and using brutal violence, there was a corresponding response from those who became more insistent on overthrowing it, and the country fell into chaos. The slogan of protecting minorities became meaningless as the regime contributed to the cleansing of minorities. In order to prove its claim that the uprising was a militarized uprising of terrorists, it pushed the rebels to take up arms, but failed to control them.


The regime’s inability to control events put an end to its claim of protecting minorities. At the same time, the regime involved minorities to try to secure its survival. Presented here are some brief statistics prepared, not by the rebels, but by the regime. They undermine any claim that the regime is protecting Syria’s minorities.


The number of Alawites in Syria is about 3 million. In the past, they were concentrated mainly in Syria’s coastal region and fifty years ago they moved into many of Syria’s cities, particularly Damascus and Homs. In their not so distant history, the Alawites suffered a massacre at the hands of the Ottoman authorities, which took the lives of several thousand of them.  Today, in the current phase of the Syrian revolution, there is statistical data suggesting the biggest massacre yet committed against the Alawites.


As mentioned, the known number of Alawites in Syria is three million. According to the structure  of the Syrian community, males account for no more than forty percent of all Alawaites, i.e 1.2 million, with two thirds of them children and the elderly. Accordingly, there are about 400,000 young men in all sectors of life who are largely responsible for the economic output of the total Alawite population.


Let’s discuss how the Alawites were affected under the auspices of the regime that launched Syria into an internal battle, allegedly to protect the minorities.  The following statistics are taken from official agencies and were issued more than six months ago. First, there have been about 60,0000 deaths among soldiers from the Syrian army and those fighting under the regime’s banner. The number of Alawites killed is about 35-40,000, coming from Tartus, Latakia, Homs, and Damascus (listed in descending order of those killed). Most of those killed are, of course, between 18 and 50 years old. Returning to the number of [economically] active males of the sect, estimated to be 400,000, and doing a simple calculation, we find that ten percent of the Alawites are dead. More than 150,000 Alawite children are fatherless, which means they are psychologically troubled, especially in the absence of competent psychological support institutions. And there are tens of thousands of widows and bereaved mothers.


All of this is happening under the leadership of a regime claiming to be fighting to protect the minorities. This ratio of those massacred is considered larger than the massacres committed against the Muslims in Bosnia. These numbers of course don’t include those who were killed after being kidnapped or those whose bodies were not given to their families.


When will all the parties in Syria, and the Alawites in particular, reach the conviction that the regime’s main goal of its internal war is the maintenance of the existing power structure through the use of the Syrian people, of every sect, as fuel? Looking to the future, regardless of the result of the regime’s war against Syrians, the Alawites are now certain that they will not be able to leave the places they now find themselves concentrated. This is because the massacres that the regime is committing in the name of the minorities have been accompanied by videos produced by its security forces that show the Alawites, with a distinct dialect, as the perpetrators of these massacres. So the Alawite public memory has bequeathed to its future generations a potential danger from other parts of Syria that wait the moment of revenge



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