800px-Syria_2004_CIA_map-2010-07-09

Jabal al-Nusayriyya lies in the `Alawite heartland comprised of the provinces of Latakia and Tartous, and runs parallel to the cities and provinces of Idlib, Hama and Homs on the east. With the Turkish border on the north and the Lebanese border on the south, the main roads between these cities could function as the eastern border for the would-be state. The ethnic cleansing that has taken place in the area would then be in preparation of this.

On that note, I should be mentioned that the comments on top of the ethnic map previously posted are outdated and contain a number of mistakes. First, it mentions that Christians are largely supportive of Assad. This is no longer the case, if it ever was before to begin with. Syrian Christians are made up of various different ethnic and denominational communities that live in different areas. Their support or opposition differs little from that of the Sunnis. In the area of our concern, where Christians have a strong presence as the map shows, the regime “is now actually seeking to drive out the inhabitants of non-`Alawi [Sunni & Christian] neighbourhoods, towns and villages.” Their fate is the same as that of anyone else, they are pushed out not pulled in. The historical precedent in the French Mandate is also not a minority state, and it would be impossible to form it due to geography and demographics, let alone politics, tradition or culture.

So everyone is left out in this plan, Christians, Druze, Kurds and most importantly of all: Sunni Arabs, who still form the bulk of regime supporters. This is an enormous problem for a regime who, contrary to popular belief, relies on non-`Alawite communities. It would require a massive sectarian transformation, the beginning of which we may have been witnessing for the past year. Whatever the case, it must be the absolutely last way out for this regime because the sacrifice is unbearable to them. They certainly aren’t showing that they are ready to give up in Damascus, Aleppo, or Deir al-Zor in the east.

It should also be pointed out that the comment from the ethnic map claiming four decades of Shi`i control in Syria doesn’t make much sense either. It is not quite an `Alawite regime to begin with, though it may become one in case of the would-be state. Other Shi`a in Syria are marginal, such as the Isma`ili’s, or barely existent, such as the Twelvers. More importantly, foreign Shi`i interests, be they movements or states, have been the same as that of the regime at times and the opposite at other times. This regime isn’t a client of Iran, if anything both are clients of the Russians whose interest, which primarily lies in the coastal region, comes first. There is no route to Iran in that case, unless it goes through Free Syria; so it is their loss, not gain. It’s also a loss for Iraq, and eventually for Hezbollah as well considering their reliance on Assad’s grip on Lebanon, which will also becomes less if not collapse completely in that case. What matters to the regime most in the end is its own survival.

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