MESOP ANALYSIS BY THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL – “Alawite identity in Syria” (H.A. Hellyer, Syria Source)

“The timing of the document is significant, even while the writers state in their opening that they wrote the document not because of any specific events but because ‘for far too long, [we have been] defined with the words of others rather our own.’ The Syrian regime’s power position at present is more comfortable than at other times in the past, and retribution against the authors remains a likely possibility — but the document was still released.

At the same time, within the West, there is a powerful intellectual trend that deems the Syrian regime as indispensable for the survival of the Alawite community, and that the regime’s defeat would spell the extinction of Alawites as a result of widespread support for the regime among that community. This document may be aimed at convincing that trend that support for Assad even among Alawites ought not to be taken for granted. In general, the authors refuse to be considered a minority community because minority status is a barrier to their ability to integrate with the larger Syrian community. Rather, they see a Syria where Syrian patriotism is the defining attribute of Syrian citizenship. Moreover, their emphasis on rejecting a sense of Alawite victimhood on the one hand, and disassociating themselves from the current regime of Damascus could, coupled with the religious re-association integral to the text, define the next phase of Alawite religion. But much of that depends on political realities on the ground — and Syria is nothing if not complex.” Full Text