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June 08, 2011

On Sectarianism in Syria's revolution

June 08, 2011

June 08, 2011

Selim Barakat, a Syrian-Kurdish poet, wrote a rather sectarian article on the Syrian regime's supporters in Lebanon. The article, titled "the orphans of the Syrian Regime in Lebanon" called Hezbollah "the Party of Shiite Sectarianism", which might be the case. However, the article's problem is applying a sectarian context to understand geopolitical events, namely the Syrian - PLO wars in Lebanon. Assad's war with Arafat was not Sunni-Allawite, it was about power and international politics. Arafat was too independent for Assad to tolerate his domination of Lebanon, his most strategically important backyard. Arafat was Assad's ally till their interests collided; I see no Sunni-Shiite tensions in this relation. What defines Assad's politics and alliances in Lebanon are interests and loyalties; his allies are good servants of the regime's interests in Lebanon. This could not be more visible than in the Fat-hallah massacre in Beirut in 1987, in which more than 18 activists were executed, and in the Syrian-Iranian proxy war (through Amal and Hezbollah, two Shiite factions).
In fact, Assad, the son or father, is no different than Mubarak who did not hesitate in shoring up Israeli efforts to beseige Gaza to preserve hia own interests. Could we explain Mubarak's actions in the ancient hatred/Sectarian context? I don't think so. We could look at the interests, politics after all is about power, and power is about controlling the state.
I don't think such an article is timely, it fits after all in the regime's narrative on the current uprising ... a fitna and so on. But in all cases, the regime bears the prime responsibility for sectarianism in Syria.


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