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The Alawites in the American Conscience

Ambassador Ford's appropriation of blame is wrong
The Alawites in the American Conscience

"Robert Ford is not completely free to transfer what he witnessed himself of the events of the Syrian crisis, because his name is still on the monthly salary list in the State Department, and therefore he speaks as part from the government. He is not neutral."


Thus wrote Frederick Hoff, the senior scholar at the Atlantic Council in Washington, and a former diplomat, commenting on Ford's recent statements to the New York Times, in which he accused the performance of the Syrian opposition and said they are responsible for Assad's survival and control over the western part of the country. He predicted in the same article that Assad will continue in office for a period that may not be short.


According to Ambassador Ford, the former coordinator of the U.S. State Department with the Syrian opposition, there are three reasons for Assad's ability to retain control: The first and third are related to the opposition, while the second is related to Iran and Russia.


The first and main reason is the fact that the Syrian opposition did not succeed in reassuring the safety of the Alawite sect. Another reason,  ranked third by Ford, is the fragmentation of the opposition and the absence of its political vision, unlike the unity in regime's coordination and goal.


So Ford had excluded "the West", first and foremost the United States, from responsibility for what is happening in Syria, ignoring the negative role played by the American officials, especially in disrupting the process of arming the opposition, until the fighters and their referees became confused, which gave America a "legitimate excuse" to delay arming the opposition which included radical jihadist fighters, most of them linked to the ideology of Al-Qaeda, which is on the top of American and international terrorism list.


In fact, Ambassador Ford's statement does not surprise me at all. I have already heard him say this in a work meeting with Deputy French Foreign Minister for Middle East Affairs, Ambassador Jean Francois Giroux, in his office at Boulevard d'Orsay in Paris 2013. We visited him to give the French government a legal brief to protect civilians in Syria, seeking to satisfy France in order to become the first to adapt of such a brief in the General Assembly of the United Nations.


I remember the first question Ambassador Giroux asked me that day: "You as an opposition figure; how would you reassure the Alawites they would not be subjected to massacres if the regime fell? We are concerned about this".


I replied immediately: "The reassurance towards our fellow Alawites came from the free men in their community itself, and from the opposition which belongs to this sect, which is fully aware that the unarmed majority of Alawites need reassurance as long as the heavy weapons are in the hands of Assad and his minority within the sect itself."


The sons of Alawites might be the first Hafez Assad wanted to include in his security order when he came to power, but the rebels among them were eliminated just like the rebels from other sects. The way Assad the father dealt with Salah Jadid and Muhammad Imran doesn’t differ from the way Assad the son dealt with Aref Dalila, Hanadi Zahlout and Abdul Aziz al-Khair and many other members of the community in the conflict.


This is compelling evidence that the Assad family has kidnapped the whole of Syrian society since the 1970s. This family used a community to achieve its financial and authoritarian gains, and has systematically eliminated the dissidents among them or chased them or put them in detention centers to face a slow death.


The first to resign from the office of Syria in the State Department, and the second senior diplomat who took up the heavy Syrian file along with Ambassador Ford under the tenure of Hillary Clinton, denies the statements of Ford, and speaks about the reasons of U.S. failure in managing the crisis in Syria, "in the light of the absence of any clear strategy and the lack of objective policies to address the Syrian crisis, the U.S. government was preoccupied with ideas seem like "myths" and have no relation to the Syrian situation, ideas like searching for an Alawite officer (Savior) to lead a coup to topple Assad."


The decision makers in Barack Obama's administration cannot ignore that Bashar Assad had used the elite of Alawite security and military forces and the Shabbiha from his own tribe and his family, and mercenaries he brought from abroad in a malicious attempt to involve the community as a whole in the bloody feud between them and the Sunni sect.


The attempt was supported logistically by Iranian Shiite militias and Russian security experts in order to help the regime persist in the killing and ethnic cleansing in the country to divide the people of one nation.


The American obsession in its approach to the ongoing Syrian crisis and the laxity in taking appropriate decisions in a timely manner, as a result of the disintegration in the opposition and the absence of a united political vision, paved the way for the White House leader to find excuses to avoid taking critical positions to support the Syrian rebels since the regime targeted their peaceful demonstrations and civil gatherings.


In September 2011, a group of Alawite Sheikhs in Homs, issued a statement that denied the "brutal practices carried out by the Syrian regime against the unarmed protesters demanding their rights and freedom", and that "the regime of Bashar Assad did not and will not represent their community".


In January 2012, the "statement of Syrians Alawite intellectuals" was issued, signed by hundreds of Syrian activists from the whole Syrian community components, where they called the "Alawite Syrian citizens, the members of religious and nationalistic minorities who fear what will follow the collapse of the regime to participate in the overthrow of the repressive regime and contribute to the building of the new Syrian Republic, a state of law and citizenship."


The gray policies of Obama allowed the Russian bear to swallow Crimea while the hot blood of Syrians still flows from both sides of his jaws.


Obama's policies allowed Iran to roll into the Syrian territory, turning the regional equations upside down, in terms of its growing influence as a major power in the region, if not the largest armed force with nuclear claws legitimated  internationally.


Obama's policies will torture the American conscience, for generations to come, by the burden of the ugly official silence towards the crimes against humanity practiced by the Syrian regime.


Dear Ambassador Ford, what might be in urgent need to a reassurance tour is the American political consciousness which Frederick Hoff attacked strongly because of his discontent towards your government's official attitude, that he was the first to retreat from.


Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer


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