Brain Bush’s Blog

Breaking Down Syria

  • By : Brian Bush
  • April 1, 2011
  • 2:34 pm

Hi Friends,

The demonstrations continue in Syria with today large gatherings being orchestrated as a 'Friday for the Martyrs' remembering those killed over the last few weeks.

Lets break things down a little to perhaps help us in understanding the situation there.

These protests have a strong sectarian character. Mr. Bashar Assad, the leader of Syria, is of the Alawite sect of Shi'ite Islam. The Alawites, from which comes Mr. Assad and the Baath Party leadership, along with its Shi'ite partners constitute about 13% of Muslims in Syria. Most of Syria is Sunni Muslim.

During his eleven years in power, Bashar Assad has made a stronger alliance with Iran and Hezbollah (in Lebanon) both of which are Shi'ite.

During the days of Bashar's father, Hafez Al-Assad, the elder took care to maintain the delicate sectarian coalition under the banner of 'Syrian honor'.

Analysts say the younger Assad has reportedly neglected the local interests in favor of those of Shi'ite Iran.

The Sunni majority does not look favorably on these shifts. But the people are largely powerless to undo the ruling power.

Why does not Assad foster Syrian pride? Part of the answer may be that Iranian influence provides the ruling Alawite minority in Syria with protection against the Sunni majority of the people.

And just as Assad needs Hezbollah's help in maintaining Syria's interests in Lebanon, the rulers of Syria are not feared enough without the shadow of Tehran.

Brian Bush
Middle East Correspondent
LeSEA Broadcasting

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