The Syrian Uprising's Impact on Minorities

(Daily Star-Lebanon) Michael Young - Syria's Alawite leadership is perpetrating a butchery partly because it expects its community to be marginalized if Bashar Assad falls. Minority solidarity is a dangerous impulse. It has led many of Syria's Kurds and Druze to watch from the sidelines as their countrymen have been slaughtered - when they have not actively participated in the repression. In Lebanon, it has pushed leading figures in the Christian community to defend the Assad regime. Minorities will gain in significance because in many countries the breakdown of authoritarian rule also represents a breakdown of the ideological and intimidatory underpinnings that once kept minorities in line. Fear of what might happen in Syria if the majority Sunnis regain power has colored the behavior of the country's minorities. Their fixation has been deformed by the expectation that if the Sunnis return, they will do so as resentful Islamists. Iran must be confused. A Syria in pieces would compel Tehran to guarantee that Alawites and Shiites cooperate. But if one of those pieces is a self-ruling Kurdish entity in Syria's northeast, alongside Iraqi Kurdistan, then the Iranians, like the Turks, could face a major headache with their own Kurds. Lebanese minority leaders Walid Jumblatt (Druze) and Samir Geagea (Christian) visited Iraqi Kurdistan in recent months. Both men are astute enough to sense that the Kurds will be big players during the coming decade, and are unlikely to fall under the thumb of Islamists.

2012-03-02 00:00:00

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