Sunnis in the Syrian army and government

For more than four years (since the start of the Syrian civil war) we have been hearing the same odd and dishonest mantra again and again:
The Syrian state and army are sectarian…The state hates Sunnis…The rebels are fought because they are Sunnis…The CIVILIANS are deliberately killed, simply because they are Sunnis…THE GOVERNMENT AND ARMY (+ LOYALIST MILITIAS) ARE „ALMOST ENTIRELY“ ALAWITES WHO HATE SUNNIS, etc.

Let´s first debunk the nonsense that the Syrian army, militias and security services are „almost entirely“ Sunni:

„As for General Swaidan’s soldiers, they arrive to salute their commander and are invited to talk to me: a group of conscripts who give their full names and their civilian jobs – one was a tailor, another a carpenter – and cheerfully say they are Sunni Muslims. Assad, of course, is an Alawite, but the general is careful of percentages, saying that 60 to 65 per cent of the 4th Brigade are Sunnis. „There is no sectarianism in this army, not in our brigade, and if you tour the checkpoints around the city, you will find most of the soldiers are Sunnis.“

The rebel forces in Syria, of course, are almost all Sunni Muslims, and that was the general’s point: Syrian Sunnis also fight for the army. And when I did stop at the general’s checkpoints and rather cruelly demanded to know their religion, almost all of them were indeed Sunni, some conscripts, many regular soldiers–the-generals-view-9206169.html

Sunnis are the backbone of the Syrian army–and-life-goes-on-9836912.html

„There are a lot of senior Sunni officers who are still in the Syrian army and security institutions…the majority of the Syrian army (around 60%) are Sunni.“

„The Syrian army is largely made up of Sunni conscripts, while many willing Sunni volunteers in the paramilitary groups that support regular government forces fight alongside foreign Shia militias, like Hezbollah, against a plethora of rebel groups that are all exclusively Sunni Muslim of varying extremes – both local and foreign.“

„The perception of the opposition as a rural-based movement led by religiously conservative, poor, and unsophisticated villagers has alienated wide segments of urban Sunnis, who have little in common socially with their co-religionists…Sunnis and, more specifically, Sunni Arabs, continue to make up the majority of the regular army’s rank-and-file membership…Estimates indicate that Sunnis account for between 60 and 65 percent of the regular army…Sunnis continue to be well represented in Syria’s security institutions in various capacities, including leadership and other specialized roles…Sunnis, for example, are well represented in NDF units based in Aleppo and elsewhere…has also bolstered the NDF’s ranks with loyal Sunni Arab tribesmen who act as crucial proxies for the regime to different degrees in provinces as diverse as Al-Raqqah, Al-Hassakah, Dara’a, and Deir al-Zour“

And now, let´s take a look at the government itself:

The Vice President, the Prime minister, the Foreign minister, the Defense minister, the Interior minister, the heads of the security services and many more influential and first level functionaries are Sunnis. Even the wives of Bashar al Assad and his brother are Sunni women:



Who promoted sectarianism in the syrian civil war?

It is both irresponsible and factually wrong to claim that the Shia lebanese Hezbollah introduced sectarianism into Syrias civil war by taking side with the regime and later entering the battlefield.

In order to prove why the sectarian claims of the syrian rebels and their arab and euro.american backers are utter nonsense its important to keep the following facts in mind.
For a long time (long before any Hezbollah fighter entered Syria), the rebels – motivated by takfiri ideology and paid and instigated by wahhabi/Salafi backers from the Persian Gulf monarchies – were regularly involved in:

– sectarian anti-Shia slogans

– kidnapping non-syrian Shia pilgrims on several occasions

– besieging and attacking shiite villages in Syria (e.g. Nubbul and Zahra)

– kidnapping and killing (often beheading or otherwise executing) Shia civilians by alleging that they are Shabiha or even worse simply „accusing“ them of rejectionism (Rafidha) and „apostasy“ (Irtidaad)

– targeted destruction of Shia mosques and shrines, vandalization of Shia graves

More and more radical Sunni clerics, among them top-notch influential preachers such as Yousef al Qaradawi started to openly attack the Shia as a faith and community. This is of course the same fascist, anti-human polemic talk that the Nazis used against Jews, but the west prefers to ignore this. While this kind of hate speech has already led to the killings (by the rebels) of Sunni clerics because of their good relations with the Assad regime or with Hezbollah, the rebels western supporters seem to not care for this as long as „arch enemy“ Irans ally Syria is the target and is getting weakened.

On the other side not a single Shia statesman or top-level Shia cleric (in Iran, Iraq or Lebanon) has attacked the rebels for being Sunnis or has used the term „Sunni“ in connection with denouncing the rebels faith. „Sunni“ has not been used as insult or otherwise derogatory against the rebels or the states supporting them. Hezbollah leader Nasrallah clearly used the word „Takfiri“ to attack the rebels and in the same speech said that when he says „Muslims“ he is addressing not only Shias, but also Sunnis, Alawis and others, thus making crystal clear that he is not attacking Sunnis or doubting their islamic belief and loyalty.

Even while reporting a „massacre“ on 60 Shiite villagers in eastern Syria by the rebels, the same BBC article mentions the increased desire of France to arm the rebels. The underlying „logic“ (which is an insult to this words real meaning) is to make the syrian conflict more „balanced“, pointing out that the syrian army has an airforce which the rebels don´t have.

Maybe the rest of the world should use the same flawed logic to arm the Islamists in Mali. After all the French special troops are much better armed. Or „we“ should consider arming the Taliban to make the war in Afghanistan more „balanced“ and „fair“, since the Taliban have no drones. This is of course a fiction scenario but the grotesque analogy should open the eyes of those people who prefer to strengthen the syrian rebels by further (and better) arming them instead of putting them under pressure to enter serious peace talks with the syrian government without demanding brazen preconditions which are solely aimed at sabotaging any negotiations.