Last Updated: Sun Jul 29, 2012 08:34 am (KSA) 05:34 am (GMT)

Idea of an Assad Alawite state

Abdul Rahman al-Rashed

In the light of Bashar Assad’s crimes of extermination being carried out in most parts of Syria, I can't rule out a scenario where he decides tomorrow to throw away the keys of the capital and flee to Latakiya. It could just as easily be any city in the coastal belt, guarded by mountain ranges to the west of the country that he chooses, bringing with him the idea of setting up a tiny state there and continuing his activities.

A foolish plan like this from Bashar’s head, a man who has never made a correct decision, cannot be solved during this crisis. His only plan is to get power, with which he wants to suppress 20 million Syrians, along with external support from Iran and Russia with which he will protect his regime.

After his military’s failure to suppress the revolutionaries, his remaining option is to flee to Russia or Iran, or to another area, which he might imagine as his family sanctuary.

There are two challenges facing his dream of a family sanctuary. His status as a wanted man will create a distance between him and the population in that region of his family sanctuary; mainly Alawites and Christians who won’t want to carry his criminal burden or even defend him. Secondly, even if they granted him a shelter and made him their head, how will it be possible for him to protect that region from the tens of thousands of revolutionaries chasing him whichever direction he goes? Whatever scattered remnants of his army that might remain; they would be worn out and weak after one-and-a-half years of war. With the army drained of all of its morale, they would be in the weaker position against an enemy superior in numbers and materials.

The power equation has changed; even the Russians who used to refuse to condemn the use of power against civilians six months ago in support of their ally Assad, have now started demanding to stop the arming of the revolutionaries and restrain their activities.

There are pointers indicating their intention to establish a coastal state. In the past months, his forces have been driving out residents of many cities and parallel villages, about half of Homs, with the aim of drawing the border marks that would facilitate a sectarian state on the ground as what happened in Lebanon. But the sectarian separation will not be that simple. Its boarders beyond Aleppo, Hama and Homs which are regions with mixed populations will inherit countless issues.

I don't think the Alawites of the mountains are ready to adopt the idea of a state under constant threat and surrounded by vast hostile areas, given the option for a state accommodating all Syrians with equal rights. Far away from a nation in theory, we understand the fear that the Alawites and other sects, even if they are mostly ordinary Syrian citizens, will have about paying for Assad's crimes. But because the regime began a war one-and-a-half years ago with talks about extremist Sunnis in order to attract the minorities for their self-defense, it is quite natural that the fear of forming a new state still exists.

A clash will be inevitable if Assad drags the Alawites after his destructive ideas. These cities are overlapping or close areas. Homs is only 80 miles from Tartus. Even while there is the possibility of the presence of internal forces scheming to disintegrate into tiny states, the region cannot afford to suffer such a scenario and countries like Turkey or Iraq will not keep quiet about such moves. The situation will be complicated to those who handle the legacy of the Assad regime and will also depend on the method of dealing with the perilous gaps created in the Syrian society by the Assad forces.

The writer is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in Arab News on July 29, 2012

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