Assad has done some bad things in his day. There is no doubt about that. What choice did he have? The Alawaites are a tiny minority group (12%) surrounded by a sea of intolerant radical Sunni Arabs. He has made deals with horrible people. As an Israeli, I know this all too well.  At the same time, I can take a step back and understand that the Middle East is a tough place and tough places call for tough measures.

As I mentioned above the Alawites are a 12% minority. Most of their neighbors consider them pagans who worship the moon. This is not a good reputation to have when living is a sea of Arab Muslims. Their only option was to blend in when they could and arm up and prepare for the worst.  Had they not sided with Egypt in the Pan Arab days, they could not have survived. If they hadn't allied with Russia all of these years they would not have survived. As much as I find their relationship with Iran very troubling, the reality is that in the Middle East you have to do whatever is necessary to survive. Anyway, who should they have sided with? America? Look what happened to Mubarak. If Assad had been pro-western the Alawites would have shared the same fate as the Yazidis.

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I hear many people in America saying Assad has to go. I raise a question to all those who say that. Do you support the genocide of the Alawites? What about the Druze? This is what will inevitably happen if Assad is overthrown. There is nothing that can be done to prevent radical Jihadis from gaining control of the country. Even the “moderate” rebel groups can do nothing to stop them. By the way, none of these groups are moderate if you are a minority. Telling the Alawites to put down their arms is no different than telling the Israelis to put down their arms.


Why should we (Israelis) care about any of this? The civil war is Syria has created a new reality on the ground. The Alawites are fighting a civil war with the Sunnis; they no longer have to pretend. They no longer have any reason to care about "Palestine" or any other Arab causes. They are a largely secular non-Muslim Middle Eastern minority in a situation not so different than ours. That is, they are just trying to survive. Russia’s involvement in the war has pulled them further away from Iranian influence. Russia has turned a blind eye to Israel’s bombing of Hezbollah positions which shows how deep the Syrian-Hezbollah axis really runs. They were allies of convenience and that’s all. The highly religious Hezbollah has little in common with the largely secular Alawaites who have a pagan religion anyway.

No, I am not saying an open alliance with the Alawites is possible right now; it is not. The Alawaites are still too entrenched with many of our most bitter enemies. They have been raised from the cradle with anti-Zionist propaganda and many of them still hold very negative feelings towards Israel. Still, they are a non-Muslim non-jihadi minority with many of the same enemies as us. They do not have any religious reasons, and no longer have any nationalistic reasons, to oppose us. They are one of the few groups in the Middle East who are willing to fight the Sunnis. Looking toward the future, anything is possible. The politics of the past had forced us to be enemies, but new realities may one day bring us together.

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