"Syrians have already decided – Assad is their man, for now and into the future, helping to rebuild the society he has worked so hard to save from the terrorist armies of the 'Western allies.' Syrians know that their survival is because of Assad – not in spite of him," Macilwain asserted.
Western political and military leaders, as well as mass media offer a different picture. They claim that Assad and the Alawites are oppressing other religious groups in Syria. This is supposedly the main reason behind the 2011 insurgency.
"Until the stirring up of sectarian tensions by the foreign fomenters of the armed insurgency many Syrians didn't even know, or care about their neighbors' religious affiliation — much as in the secular democracies of the West," he explained.
Macilwain offers another example to support the idea that Assad is not the problem:
"Emphasizing the secular character of Syrian society, and quite contrary to the pervasive western fairy tales, the religious affiliations of both government and army members broadly reflect that of the community as a whole, with a majority being Sunni Muslim. And apart from leading a government which is not 'Alawite,' President Assad has led by example – his wife Asma is a Sunni Muslim too."
This could well explain why the Syrians voted for Assad at the first multicandidate presidential election in the country's history, which was held in June 2014. This could also explain why the West does not want Assad to take part in the UN-supervised free and fair presidential poll.
The upcoming election is part of a peace plan outlined in a recently-adopted UN Security Council resolution. It is expected to take place after all stakeholders secure a ceasefire in the war-torn country.