President Bashar al-Assad was quoted telling delegates from the East Christians Assembly that he “refused that Ottomanism would replace Arabism or that Ankara would become the decision-making center of the Arab world”. He also refused to leave the stage open for religious parties, because “this would allow the Muslim Brotherhood, which is headquartered in Ankara, to control the region”.
These words mean that the al-Assad regime is trying to win over the minorities by scaring them of the dangers posed by the majority. Yet the real problem here is not the al-Assad regime, but rather what the minorities themselves have done in our region; the Christians in Lebanon and Iraq, even the Shiites in Iraq and Bahrain, who are committing a grave mistake by sliding into the quagmire of supporting dictatorships, under the pretext that they will be protected against the majority. It is important here to repeat what I heard from a rational, liberal friend, who is far removed from sectarian views, about his reaction to the actions of minorities these days in our region. My friend’s opinion reflects the view of a substantial portion of the rational liberals in our region.
My friend, who lives in a politically sensitive location, said: “From experience, I am convinced that I have made two mistakes in my life…The first was that during my youth, and my enthusiasm for the Palestinian cause, when I believed that every error committed in order to liberate Palestine was acceptable, whatever it was, but experience has taught me that this way of thinking was wrong, and has shown me the magnitude of damage that has been inflicted upon the Palestinian cause and the region as a whole”. Then he added “as for my second mistake, which I have recently learned; due to the intensity of my enthusiasm for liberalism, I used to think that standing with the minority was a universal duty, but the truth is that the duty is to stand with the citizens, not the minority, whoever they are!”
The words of this friend are the mantra for the wise people in our region today. The reason behind this is not sectarian intolerance, but rather the shameless extremism of minorities. Such minorities have forgotten that citizenship, and of course the homeland, is superior to everything, even the dictator and his allies!
This is the mistake which befell the Shiites in Bahrain, and although they are not a minority in their own country, they are amongst their Arab surroundings. The same thing happened with the Shiites in Lebanon, given their surroundings, especially because they believe that there are embers [of an uprising] under the ashes in Iran. If the Iranians themselves are dreaming of the moment which they can finally breathe freedom, how can the Shia throw our region, especially whilst claiming to demand democracy, into the arms of Iran’s dictatorial regime? What is worse is how the Christians in the Middle East have been deceived, specifically in Lebanon and Syria, by al-Assad’s words that he would not allow Ankara to become the decision-making center of the Arab world, or leave the stage open to religious parties and the control of the Muslim Brotherhood. The al-Assad regime, an advocate of the secular state, has thrown itself in to the arms of Persian Iran, enabling it to go against all our Arab nations, and against all Arab decisions. This is not all, for it is also protected by the Islamic regime of Iran when it comes to suppressing the Syrian people.
The ultimate goal is to maintain the homeland and the right to coexist within it, under the framework of citizenship, and not under the shadow of minorities’ extremism and their downfall by supporting dictatorships which are doomed to fail. It is God’s intention, sooner or later, that dictators will leave and nations will remain. The danger today is that even the rational voices who once defended the minorities in our region have themselves become skeptical of the role of these minorities, let alone the skepticism of the general populace.