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Syria's Sunni Opposition On Shi'itisation.

The predominantly-Sunni opponents of Assad's regime have been vocal against the Shi'itisation process in Syria since last autumn. In a report from London on Oct. 31, Orient News quoted Ali Sadruddin al-Bayanouni, a London-based lawyer who heads the Syrian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), as saying this process was "politically motivated" and could not achieve its objective of affecting the unity of the Syrian society or its Sunni majority.

Bayanouni said Assad's regime was turning a blind eye to this process. Bayanouni also said in statements he made to the Quds Press agency that "all the Shi'itisation movement taking place in Syria is an insult to the Syrian society and an attempt to sow the seeds of confusion with the aim of changing the Syrian social structure". Bayanouni pointed to what he described as a failed attempt by some suspicious quarters inside the Syrian regime trying to saw enmity against the Alawite sect, adding: "The Alawites are part of the Syrian people, and no enmity exists between them and other components of the Syrian people".

Former Syrian vice president Abdul-Halim Khaddam, who broke away with Assad's regime in late 2005 and co-founded the National Salvation Front (NSF) in alliance with the MB and other opposition groups abroad, said: "The Syrian-Iranian relationship was now...becoming a tight partnership". Khaddam regarded changing the nature of Syria's relationship with Iran as a result of Assad's "faulty policies", saying: "Bashar al-Assad charted a different political course, caused his relationship with the world to become tense and distanced himself from the Arab region, and he is searching for protection because of his involvement in Lebanon and the crisis on the internal front".

Khaddam speculated that Assad's regime was being infiltrated by Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), with Iranian intelligence agents having penetrated the Syrian political and security circles. He pointed to an agreement between Syrian and Iranian security organs, a mutual defence agreement signed in 2006 between Tehran and Damascus and a "broad co-ordination between the security organs in the two countries which covers Lebanon and Syria".

Khaddam accused the Iranian ambassador to Damascus of leading the Shi'itisation process in Syria, saying: "Shi'itisation is a political phenomenon carried out by the Iranian ambassador to Damascus with the objective of creating a political situation that is tied to Iran, and this activity is dangerous as it lays the ground for sectarian strife in Syria".

Shaikh Salman al-Oudah, the prominent Saudi preacher of Wahhabism and General Supervisor of the "Islam Foundation Today" has talked about the Shi'itisation phenomenon created by the current political situation, particularly after the downfall of Iraq under US occupation and the emergence of sectarian calls with the rhetoric of some pro-Iran movements about Shi'ites being oppressed.

Shaikh Oudah says: "The Shi'ite tide is spreading in a big way in and around Syria, particularly in Syria and a number of Muslim countries and I think that we can call part of this phenomenon as political Shi'itisation, meaning that it is a kind of loyalty to Iran..."
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Publication:APS Diplomat News Service
Date:Jul 23, 2007
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