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Many of the problems of the Middle Eastern states can be traced to the mistakes of the European state charged with developing them between the World Wars. The fierceness with which the Alawite minority - led by Bashir al Assad - will fight to retain control can be explained by their fear of Sunni Muslims. Way back in 1936, Assad's grandfather, Suleiman Assad warned France, which was then the power in charge of Syria, of the dangers of a Sunni Muslim takeover of Syria in 1936. He also spoke warmly about Jewish accomplishments in then Palestine and the injustice of Arab-Muslim violence towards Zionism.