Turkey, Middle East

Anti-Assad Syrian Alawites launch 'Upcoming Syria' movement

Movement aims to counter perception that conflict in Syria is one between country’s Alawite and Sunni communities

Sibel Uğurlu   | 24.11.2015
Anti-Assad Syrian Alawites launch 'Upcoming Syria' movement

İstanbul

ISTANBUL

 At a two-day summit held in Istanbul, Syrian Alawites -- Shia Muslims also known as "Nusayris" -- announced the establishment of the "Upcoming Syria" movement to counter the popular perception that the conflict in Syria was one between the country’s Alawite and Sunni populations.

Prominent Syrian Nusayris who oppose the Assad regime attended the summit, which was held on Nov. 21 and 22.  

"The ‘Upcoming Syria’ movement was born of the pain of the Syrian people and five years of chaos in the country," read a statement issued at the end of the event.

Drawing attention to the deep divisions wracking the country, the statement stressed that the Syrian people had been the conflict’s primary victims.

The movement, the statement added, had been founded to give voice to the views of Syria’s Alawite community, correct longstanding misperceptions and improve relations between different segments of Syrian society.  

With this in mind, the founders of Upcoming Syria made the following assertions:

1) The Alawite people are a main element of Syria and, like other Syrians, want to lead free and dignified lives. However, certain factors had made the Alawites victims of the conflict between the Assad regime, its allies and those who benefited from the regime on one hand, and the Syrian people, who long for freedom, equality and justice. These factors include:

a) The Assad regime and its allies have applied a policy of systematic exclusion, which has resulted in the majority of the Syrian people -- along with the Alawite political, intellectual and religious segments of society -- being excluded from society. This way, the Assad regime and its allies have posited themselves as the sole authority for the Alawite people with the aim of creating the perception that only the regime can protect the Alawite people.     

b) The Assad regime and its allies have eroded the Syrian people’s sense of national identity by putting their own interests first for more than 50 years, furthering the frustration of the Syrian people. The Assad regime has forged links between itself and the Alawite people, which has furthered the perception among Syria’s non-Alawite communities that the Alawite people -- by nature -- support the regime.

c) The more radical organizations among Syria’s armed opposition groups are increasingly speaking in sectarian terms, which has in turn driven many Alawites closer to the Assad regime. However, many Alawites are simply trying to ensure their own survival -- not the survival of the Assad regime. Nevertheless, many Alawites believe the regime is protecting them and that Assad’s overthrow would subject them to risk.

d) The notion that every Alawite supports the regime and every Syrian Sunni Muslim is opposed to it only serves the regime’s interests by distorting the image of the revolution.

2) In regard to the above-mentioned points, we, as the “Upcoming Syrian” movement, want to highlight that the Assad regime is entirely responsible for all the death and destruction the country has suffered. The Assad regime is also entirely responsible for ongoing foreign intervention in the country and the chaos and violence caused by its insistence on a military solution to the conflict. The regime is also responsible for ongoing sectarian conflict between the country’s religious sects.

3) The Upcoming Syria movement sees all foreigners on Syrian territory as "occupiers", whether they are there for military purposes or to aid opposition forces.

4) Not everyone fighting the Assad regime is a member of the opposition. It is unacceptable to turn Syria into a battleground for these groups. From this point of view, the revolution must be redirected back to its original objectives and principles.

5) As the Upcoming Syria movement, we aim to found a pluralistic, democratic and civilized state and prevent all sectarian conflicts by standing against plans to divide the country. We would also like to emphasize that Syrian identity remains the only definition of national belonging and that we support the unity of the Syrian people and the country’s territorial integrity.  

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