Report: Assad Approached Israel for Alawite Safe Haven
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reportedly approached MK Avigdor Lieberman via a third party to ask Israel not to block his attempts to form an independent state for his Alawite brethren.
The contact was made late last year through a well-known diplomat according to a report published in The British Guardian newspaper.
Lieberman’s office declined to comment on the report, which said the former Israeli foreign minister had not immediately rejected the idea -- instead, he he requested via the mediator information about Israeli spy Eli Cohen, caught and executed in Damascus decades ago, missing IAF navigator Ron Arad, and three IDF soldiers who were captured in Lebanon in 1982.
There have been reports that Syrian Sunni Muslims in areas populated by Alawites – who practice an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam – are increasingly threatened and forced to flee their homes, as Assad's sect attempt to create all-Alawite areas. Many members of the small Alawite community have expressed the belief that the civil war has irreversibly changed the country in a way that will no longer allow its diverse communities to live together in peace.
The area of greatest concern is Homs, Syria’s third-largest city. All property records in the city were destroyed earlier this month in a "suspicious" fire at the municipality’s office of land registry. As a result, residents now fear they will have no way to enforce any claim to their land and homes.
Homs and the surrounding province of the same name is geographically linked to large Alawite areas on the Syrian coastline, and to Shi’ite areas in Lebanon’s Beka’a Valley. Both the Assad regime, the Lebanon-based Shi’ite Hizbullah terrorist organization, and parts of the Lebanese government are all generously funded and equipped by Shi’ite Iran.