The Great Alawite Hope

Syria does not sit atop an ocean of oil, as does Saudi Arabia. It does not have a huge population, as does Egypt. It does not wield economic and military clout like Turkey’s. But under the oppressive rule of Bashar al-Assad, Syria has been the primary agent of Iran’s ruling jihadis within the Arab world. It has been the patron of Hezbollah, the militia that has been carrying out a slow-motion coup in Lebanon. And it has been a welcoming host to Hamas and other terrorist groups whose most immediate target is Israel.

Over the past four months, Syrians have been taking to the streets in courageous displays of defiance, demanding the resignation of Assad and an end to the dynasty begun by his father, Hafez al-Assad, 40 years ago. In response, the regime’s security forces have killed as many as 1,600 men, women, and children. Almost ten times that number have been arrested. And yet, to the surprise of many, the protesters refuse to be suppressed.

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