I will begin on a personal note. Since the start of the pogroms in Syria a year and a half ago, I have written again and again in my articles on this honorable stage that the Alawites will behave with cruelty and severity and with total insensitivity toward their opposition, because they are aware that they are fighting not only to keep control of the regime in their hands but also – and mainly – in order to keep their heads connected to their shoulders. My words were an assessment based on lengthy research on the Syrian domestic arena, that was published in the doctoral thesis that I wrote (1998) and in the book that was based on it (2005). From time to time I have heard and read harsh expressions of Muslims toward the Alawites, but I have never seen proof that the Alawites indeed fear that the Muslims might slaughter them if they had the opportunity.
In the background is the historical fact that modern Syria was borne on the knees of the French Mandate, which was imposed on Syria after the First World War, and ended in 1943. As with other Arab states in the Middle East, many of the genetic illnesses that Syria suffers from stem from errors that were committed by the states charged with the mandates, France and Great Britain. Italy, which controlled Libya, is responsible to a certain extent for the chaos in that state. The main mistake of the European states in the Middle East was creating states that included different ethnic, tribal, religious and sectarian groups that are antagonistic to each other, with the hope that the day will come when all of them will sit around the campfire and sing patriotic songs in perfect harmony. This did not happen, this is not happening now and this will also not happen in the foreseeable future.
On August 30th of this year a discussion was held in the UN Security Council on the civil war raging in Syria, that was responsible for about five thousand deaths in August alone. Two of the spokesmen participating in the discussion were the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, and the Syrian representative in the UN, Bashar al-Jafari. The Syrian representative attacked the Western states and primarily France for its support of the rebels. The French minister responded by saying:
You speak negatively about the French Mandate, and I must remind you that the grandfather of your president requested France not to depart from Syria and not to award it independence, and this is in an official document which he signed and is today in the French Foreign Ministry, and if you want I will give you a copy of it.
Fabius was referring to a document that the Alawite leaders, including Suleiman al-Asad, the grandfather of the president of Syria, wrote, which is in the archive of the French Foreign Ministry. The document has the date of receipt – June 15, 1936, and was written shortly prior to that date, to the French prime minister at the time, Leon Blum.
At the time, there were contacts that were conducted between the government of Franceand a group of Syrian intellectuals who believed in the possibility of establishing a greater Syrian state that would include groups that are different from one another, as in Europe. This document was published in the past in the Lebanese newspaper al-Nahar and the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram, but did not make the headlines. For the benefit of our dear readers we include here the document in its entirety, which should be read while keeping in mind what has been happening in Syria for the last year and a half. My comments are in brackets.
Dear Mr. Leon Blum, Prime Minister ofFrance.
In light of the negotiations that are being conducted between France and Syria, we – the Alawite leaders in Syria- respectfully draw the following points to your attention and to that of your party (the Socialists):
1. The Alawite nation [sic !!] which has maintained its independence over the years by dint of much zeal and many casualties, is a nation which is different from the Muslim Sunni nation in its religious faith , in its customs and in its history. It has never happened that the Alawite nation [which lives in the mountains on the Western coast of Syria] was under the rule of the [Muslims)]who rule the inland cities of the land.
About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.
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