[Marxism] Fwd: Syria Leader Assad Seeks Russian Protection from Ally Iran - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Oct 6 19:52:45 MDT 2015

It is, however, primarily in the civilian sector where significant 
changes are afoot. Just as in Damascus, Latakia and Jabla, increasing 
numbers of hosseiniehs -- Shiite religious teaching centers -- are 
opening. The centers are aimed at converting Sunnis, and even the 
Alawites, the denomination to which the Assads belong, to "correct" 
Shiite Islam by way of sermons and stipends. In addition, the government 
decreed one year ago that state-run religion schools were to teach 
Shiite material.

All of this is taking place to the consternation of the Alawites, who 
have begun to voice their displeasure. "They are throwing us back a 
thousand years. We don't even wear headscarves and we aren't Shiites," 
Alawites complained on the Jableh News Facebook page. There were also 
grumblings when a Shiite mosque opened in Latakia and an imam there 
announced: "We don't need you. We need your children and grandchildren."

In addition, Iranian emissaries, either directly or via middlemen, have 
been buying land and buildings in Damascus, including almost the entire 
former Jewish quarter, and trying to settle Shiites from other countries 

Talib Ibrahim, an Alawite communist from Masyaf who fled to the 
Netherlands many years ago, summarizes the mood as follows: "Assad wants 
the Iranians as fighters, but increasingly they are interfering 
ideologically with domestic affairs. The Russians don't do that."

That's why Assad has now decided to place his fate in the hands of the 
religiously unproblematic Russia, which last week transferred aircraft 
and troops to its military base in the northern Syrian town of Latakia 
and began flying airstrikes. The fight against the Islamic State terror 
militia served as a pretext for the operation, but the initial air 
strikes have not targeted the Islamists at all. Rather, they have been 
flown against areas controlled by Syrian rebels.


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