By Arab News
By Tariq Alhomayed
The Russian foreign minister said what he said about the Syrian crisis, and the blatant sectarianism present in his disastrous statement in which he said that the ouster of Assad will prompt regional countries to establish Sunni rule in Syria, has brought an important question to mind, namely: What will the Syrian minorities do?
Since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution last year, nobody — whether at the Syrian revolutionary or Arab level — has spoken in the language of sectarianism. Nobody has stated that the goal of the revolution is to topple the Alawites or Christians or others, indeed the leader of the Druze Walid Jumblatt has stated that he supports the Syrian revolution heart and soul. Even if there are discordant voices on this issue they exist within an abnormal framework which will not benefit anybody. However the statement by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is the first statement that makes reference to sectarianism in Syria in such a flagrant manner; even if one were to ask Assad himself, or Iran, there can be no doubt that they would be angered by this disastrous statement. So what will the Syrian minorities do? Will they believe Lavrov’s delusion, and repeat the mistakes made by the Shiite of Iraq in the 1920s when they announced their refusal to deal with King Faisal I as he was a representative of British colonialism? Or will they repeat the mistakes of Iraq’s Sunnis when they boycotted the political process following the ouster of Saddam Hussein on the grounds that this was an extension of US colonialism?
Or do Syria’s minorities want to repeat the mistake made by Lebanon’s Christians when they believed the American and Western delusion which claimed — via leaks — that the marginalization of Lebanon’s Christian community would not be accepted? Lebanon’s Christians, therefore, took the decision to boycott the parliamentary elections following the Taif Agreement and succeeded in excluding themselves from participating in power for around 20 years. Will the Syrian minorities today accept the Russian, or shall we say Lavrov’s delusion? If this happens then this is saddening and frustrating, because someone who fails to benefit from past mistakes, experiences and history, is his own worst enemy. The other issue that the Syrian minorities must pay attention to is that whoever misses their moment loses the battle and the stage, and this is something that could take decades to rectify.
The best thing that Syria’s minorities can do today is to make up their mind and join the revolution, becoming a genuine partner in this, and thereby contribute to drawing up their own future, rather than being dependent on political variables in Syria, as is the case today. Therefore the Syrian minorities cannot invoke their fears for the future and ask for reassurances, whilst the majority in Syria are being punished and killed; this is something that is completely incorrect. The best way for the Syrian minorities, of all forms, to protect themselves — indeed this applies to Syria as a whole — is to participate in the revolution, putting in place its principles and drawing up its future, in order to reach the Syria that has long been dreamt of, rather than being deceived by Lavrov’s delusions or Assad’s lies.
What is important today is for Syria’s minorities to be aware that they are the victims of Assad twice over; once when they are held hostage by the Assad regime and portrayed as if they accept the suppression of the (Syrian majority), and secondly when they believe the lie that he (Assad) is the protector of the minorities. The Syrian minorities must remember who benefited from the deaths of the Christians of Lebanon, and who was behind targeting Iraq’s Christians, namely Al-Qaeda, which entered Iraq via the Syrian border, and under the eyes of the Assad regime. If the Syrian minorities remember this, they will understand that they are Assad’s victims, and that he has never been the protector of the minorities.
— The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Write to him at [email protected]