A Syrian expert on Middle Eastern affairs believes Iran is angling to fragment Syria and create an Alawite state in order to maintain its power in the region, Today’s Zayman reports.
Professor Murhaf Jouejati opposes the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A member of the faculty at the National Defense University in Washington D.C., he spoke with the newspaper Monday in an exclusive interview about savage civil war wracking his homeland.
The downfall of the Assad regime would strike a lethal blow to the Syria-Iran-Hizbullah axis, Jouejati contended.
“Syria is a major stake for Iran. Syria is Iran’s door to Mediterranean and Arab politics. The fall of the regime would be a tremendous loss for Tehran,” he told the newspaper.
In order to prevent that loss, Iran is likely to attempt to divide Syria and create an Alawite state – one comprised of Muslims who support Assad.
Alawite Islam, a branch of Shi’ite Islam, is practiced by those in power in Tehran and by the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorists that have been fighting alongside Syrian government troops.
Iran would thus promote its policies in Syria using Hizbullah as its proxy in an Alawite state, Jouejati said. Both Iran and Hizbullah have long been strong supporters of the Assad regime.
“We were not talking about the fragmentation of the country before,” Jouejati said. “However, the debate on the fragmentation of Syria is more serious than ever because the crisis in the country has become more sectarianized.
“We, Syrians, are against the division of the country which could lead to the establishment of an Alawite state.”
About 15 percent of Syrians are Alawites, as is Assad. Last week a group of Alawites met in Cairo and called for the overthrow of the regime, Jouejati said, publicly distancing their community from the Assad family.