Assad may create Alawite enclave if Syria solution not found, Jordanian king warns

Abdullah II tells CBS that move, a worst case scenario, would set off a ‘sectarian land grab’

Ilan Ben Zion is an AFP reporter and a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

King Abdullah II of Jordan talking with Charlie Rose on CBS. (photo credit: Image capture from CBS)
King Abdullah II of Jordan talking with Charlie Rose on CBS. (photo credit: Image capture from CBS)

An Alawite enclave in Syria governed by President Bashar Assad is a “worst case scenario” outcome for the country’s 17-month civil war, King Abdullah II of Jordan said on Tuesday.

Speaking with Charlie Rose on CBS’s This Morning, Abdullah also urged the West not to delay any further in finding a political solution to the ongoing and increasingly violent conflict in Syria.

“If he can’t rule greater Syria then an Alawite enclave is plan B — and that’s something that needs to be considered.” Such a move is a “worst case scenario” which would inevitably result in “the breakup of greater Syria,” Abdullah said.

“The longer we take to find a political solution… then we may be pushing Syria to the abyss,” the king warned.

“Let’s move as quickly as possible,” before the conflict erupts into full blown civil war, he added.

Abdullah paraphrased Cicero’s statement that “the sinews of war are infinite money” in saying that Assad will continue to fight so long as there are dollars in his coffers. Should they run out, he may sue for peace, or entrench himself in the predominantly Alawite coastal mountain range.

Analysts have speculated that Assad would relocate to the largely Alawite area along the coast between Latakia and Tartus and behind the Nusayriya Mountains, also known as the Alawite Mountains, if pushed to the brink.

Last month, Professor Ely Carmon of the International Institute for Counter Terrorism told the Times of Israel that in recent weeks he has observed a concerted effort “to purge” those areas of Sunni residents and to create “a sterile zone” for the president’s Alawite sect.

Though constituting only some 12 percent of Syria’s population of 22 million, the Alawites have ruled the country since 1970, and many see the country’s current unrest as a sectarian struggle.

A map of Syria delineating a potential future Alawite enclave.
A map of Syria delineating a potential future Alawite enclave.

The establishment of such an enclave, whether under the auspices of an internationally-negotiated peace plan or by his own accord, could trigger a sectarian “land grab” and “cause problems that would take decades to come back from,” according to Abdullah.

Whatever the outcome of the civil war may be, Abdullah was convinced that Assad “will stick to his guns” because the Syrian president is steadfast in his certainty that he is in the right.

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