Showing all posts tagged: alawites
Thomas Friedman is visiting Syria, and thinks the maps are about to change:
Letter From Syria - Thomas Friedman via NYTimes.com
Without a strong, galvanizing Syrian leader with a compelling unifying vision, backed by the international community, getting rid of Assad will not bring order to Syria. And disorder in Syria will not have the same consequences as disorder in other countries in the region.
Syria is the keystone of the Middle East. If and how it cracks apart could recast this entire region. The borders of Syria have been fixed ever since the British and French colonial powers carved up the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. If Assad is toppled and you have state collapse here, Syria’s civil war could go regional and challenge all the old borders — as the Shiites of Lebanon seek to link up more with the Alawite/Shiites of Syria, the Kurds in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey try to link up with each other and create an independent Kurdistan, and the Sunnis of Iraq, Jordan and Syria draw closer to oppose the Shiites of Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
We could be entering a new age of Middle East border-drawing — the do-it-yourself version — where the borders of the Middle East get redrawn, not by colonial outsiders from the top down but by the Middle Easterners themselves, from the bottom up.
Friedman doesn’t say whether this redrawing of the borders is good or bad. I sense that he favors stability rather than the chaos that change can bring. But the lines left behind by the French and British after dismembering the Ottoman empire make no sense, and power politics — like the Alawite takeover of the Syrian Baath party — should cede to democracy.
The subtext is perhaps that Friedman doubts that democracy is coming. Maybe we’ll see new lines drawn, new alliances made, but that this will simply open a new era of sectarian violence and despotism, another front in the seemingly endless struggle between Shiites and Sunnis across the Islamic world, but now an especially violent front in Syria.