“If Assad Wins War, Challenge From His Own Sect May Follow”
The New York Times, April 25, 2014, p.A7
“As President Bashar al-Assad seeks re-election and promises victory over insurgents by year’s end, Syrian loyalists and regional analysts say that his success, if it materializes, could set him up for a new challenge: demands for change from core supporters who believe he owes his survival mainly to them. Some loyalists say that the Syrians most responsible for keeping Mr. Assad afloat are newly aware of his dependence on them, and would push for a bigger share of power if they came to feel safe from the threat of insurgent revenge. … Mr. Assad has survived largely thanks to the muscle, cohesion and sacrifices of two overlapping groups: fellow members of the minority Alawite sect, who disproportionately lead and serve in the security forces, and key military men from a variety of sects. Reeling from war losses and frustrated in some cases with the president’s policies, some have begun to say that they are entitled to more of the power, wealth and opportunity held close by Mr. Assad and his associates. … Current and former American officials say that at least three people from the heart of the Syrian system — senior Alawite officials or their relatives — have reached out to them, saying many Alawites feel trapped and frustrated with Mr. Assad, but are unwilling to challenge him during what they see as an existential battle.”
Quickie analysis: An interesting look at internal Syrian politics, suggesting a win for Assad’s side might not be a permanent win for Assad himself.