15 July 2012, 10:44

The West "inflaming sectarian tensions" in Syria

The West "inflaming sectarian tensions" in Syria
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What you do have is countries divided into sectarian, ethnic, religious groups and that means that, as we can see in Syria today, you have a Sunni uprising against the Alawite regime. When the Sunnis come to power they will of course massacre or drive away the Alawites and Ismailis, and the Christians and so on.

Interview with Halil Karaveli – a Senior Fellow with the Turkey Initiative at the Central Asia and Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center.

People who come to power speaking about freedom, as it has been the case in Egypt as well and in the other so called Arab Spring countries, they want freedom for their own group. And what you have in the Middle East is that you have very weak sense of citizenship, of the national unity. What you do have is countries divided into sectarian, ethnic, religious groups and that means that, as we can see in Syria today, you have a Sunni uprising against the Alawite regime. When the Sunnis come to power they will of course massacre or drive away the Alawites and Ismailis, and the Christians and so on.

So, every group that tries to come to power wants freedom for itself. And it has also been the case in Turkey, these Sunni conservatives, they carried a ban on freedom against the military and authoritarian state. But once they to power and once they entrenched themselves in power they have shown no inclination whatsoever to share power with the other groups in society, be it with the Kurds, be it with the Alawite minority and so on. They only wanted the state power for their own group. And that is a rather depressing phenomenon but that is the case in the Middle East, that most of the countries, perhaps Egypt being a little bit of an exception to that, they have a very weak national unity. Actually these are not the nation states, these are the states that consist of tribes and different ethnic and sectarian groups. And that means that you just try be as strong as you can against the other groups in society.

And I fear very much for the future of the Christians and Alawites in Syria. What is portrayed, especially in the West, as a popular uprising against the brutal dictator, of course Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator, but it is not only an uprising against the dictatorship but it is also a civil war between the Sunnis and the Alawites, and the other groups that support the regime. So, I see that especially the Western policy makers and observers tend to overlook this fact when they are talking about trying not to bring about the regime change in Syria, and arming the Sunni rebels in Syria, it seems that they are actually throwing more gasoline on the fire in Syria and inflaming sectarian tensions there which will have I fear severe consequences in the near future.

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