Dreaming of Damascus

(National Interest) Gary C. Gambill - Syria is the only majority Sunni Muslim polity in the modern era to be ruled by a largely heterodox Muslim governing elite (in this case, Alawite). The very idea of a "heretical" Islamic sect governing the faithful carries an enormous stigma in the predominantly Sunni Middle East. The fact that non-Syrian branches of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood are friendly with Assad's "apostate regime" and that al-Qaeda largely ignores him is entirely the result of Assad's demonstrable anti-Zionist and anti-American credentials. Even if Israel were willing to give up the Golan Heights, a Syrian peace treaty with the Jewish state would inevitably mean sacrificing the Assad regime's anti-Zionist pedigree, obviating its primary justification for autocratic rule. In addition, fully ending Syria's logistical support for jihadist infiltration into Iraq would leave the regime vulnerable to subversion by al-Qaeda. A governing elite whose claim to speak for the entirety of its people is so exceptionally weak cannot follow in the footsteps of Egypt and Jordan.

2011-02-11 00:00:00

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