The Alawite nation, which we, the undersigned, represent, cries out to the government ofFranceand to the French Socialist Party, and requests them to ensure its freedom and independence within its small boundaries [an independent Alawite state!!]. The Alawite nation places its well-being in the hands of the French Socialist leaders, and is sure that it will find strong and dependable support for the nation which is a faithful friend, who has rendered toFrancea great service, and now is under the threat of death and destruction.
[Signed by]: Aziz Agha al-Hawash, Mahmud Agha Jadid, Mahmud Bek Jadid, Suleiman Asad [the grandfather of Hafez], Suleiman al-Murshid, Mahmud Suleiman al-Ahmad.
This concludes the document, which was written 86 years ago, but could have been written yesterday. The document includes within it all of the ills of the Middle East that the peoples of the region suffer from until today: religious zealotry of Muslims, violence, marginalization of anyone who does not belong to the dominant group, stereotypes that determine the group-think and Western ignorance and naiveté about anything regarding the regional problems and how to solve them.
And with all due respect to the writers of the document, they are not free of problems either. Despite the fact that they are Arabs and Arabic speakers, they differentiate themselves from the general Arab-Muslim scene and define themselves as the Alawite “nation”, only because they are members of a different religion. It may be that the way they view themselves is based on the fact that they are separate tribes from the Muslim tribes, and they see themselves as the original natives of the mountains of western Syria, in contrast to the Arab Muslims who invaded the area in the seventh century from the Arabian Peninsula under the unsheathed sword of the second Muslim Caliph, Umar bin al-Khattab, who imposed Islam upon the conquered peoples.
Without doubt, the Alawites made the necessary conclusions from what is written in the document because they have ruled the Muslims since 1966 with a cruel and blood thirsty iron fist, because they knew well what would happen if the Muslims ruled over them.
An interesting additional detail in the document is the fact that the Ottoman Empireis not mentioned at all, even though it tried to Islamize the Alawites and forced them to build mosques in their villages. It could be that the signatories refrained from relating to the Turks because of the Alawite minority that lived in Turkey, and the fear that if they openly relate to the Turks in a negative way, the Turks might take revenge on their Alawite brothers who live in Turkey.
But the most interesting detail in the document is the positive way in which the writers relate to the Jews in the Land of Israel. Who knows, perhaps in the future after the Alawites are forced to flee for their lives from the Muslim cities in Syria in order to escape the fate that is described in the document and in order to keep their heads on their shoulders, they will establish their independent state in their mountains, the Mountains of Ansariyya, and perhaps then – as a persecuted minority state – in a historical irony, they will try to join hands with the “Zionist entity”, which is still an illegitimate and despised entity in the eyes of the Arabs and the Muslims.
Visit Dr. Mordechai Kedar’s blog, Middle East and Terrorism.
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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