Introduction: Basic Historic Facts
Syria is represented by 70% Sunnis. Â The majority are devout Sunnis and have no affiliation with fundamentalism. The Kurds represent about 15% of the Sunni Syrian population and lean strongly towards liberalism and/or secularism. The Muslim Brotherhood is represented by approximately 5% of the population.
The other 30% of Syrians are represented by religious minorities, which approximately stand at 12% for the Alawites, 10% for the Christians, and the other 8% split between the Druze (@ 5%) and other minorities (@ 3%). The minorities lean strongly towards liberalism and/or secularism.
Sunnis and Shia have been sworn enemies for over fourteen centuries. The enmity is based on a dispute of who should rule after the Prophet Mohammad.
Syria is ruled today by the Alawites with the participation of different religious groups, including the Sunnis.
The Alawites are strong allies of the Shia in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.
There is a deep mistrust between the Alawites and the Sunnis dating back to several centuries when Sunni Muslims ruled the region.
The Alawites have accused the Sunnis of past discrimination and mistreatment.
The majority of Syrians, including the minorities, do not support violence or tyranny and are afraid of religious fundamentalism.
The Assad regime has a long history of terror spanning five decades across the Middle East and Europe.
The Assad regime has maintained strong relationships with the past Soviet Union and today’s Russia.
The Greek Orthodox Church has deep roots in Syria and Russia defends its interests.
Syrian Uprising to Syrian Civil War
Syria‘s Civil War started as a peaceful class-driven uprising pegging the disfranchised masses (Majority Sunnis) against the elites (Alawites, Christians, and Sunnis).
The Syrian Government, ruled by the dictator Baschar al-Assad and aided by an Alawite as well as a multi-ethnic security and military apparatus, used extreme violence against mostly Sunni peaceful protesters killing thousands in a matter of months.
The extreme violence against the Sunnis caused the defections of thousands of Syrian army officers and conscripts to form the Free Syrian Army (FSA) with its base of operations in the Hatay region of Turkey (Northwest of Syria).
Met by more extreme violence, the Syrian uprising turned into a Syrian Sectarian Civil War with the help of outside actors like Iran, Hezbollah, Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
The Assad regime is attempting to expand the Syrian Civil War into a regional conflict by terrorizing Lebanon and Jordan and attacking Turkey.
Outside Players and Their Role
Several brigades have been formed in Syria under the FSA umbrella. They are actively fighting the Assad regime.
Fundamentalist Islamic groups with affiliations to al-Qaeda are entering Syria to fight the Assad regime.
Sunni religious leaders, in Saudi Arabia, are subtly instigating Sunnis in the Arab world to play a role in stopping the oppressors (i.e. The Assad regime).
Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are both actively fighting in Syria on the side of the Assad regime. Iraq is facilitating the shipment of arms to the Assad regime.
The main sectarian actors are: Iran, Hezbollah, and Iraq (Shia) in addition to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and the Kurds (Sunni). And to a lesser extent Egypt (Sunni) and Lebanon (Multi-ethnic).
The main non-sectarian actors are: The United States, Russia, and France. And to a lesser extent China and Great Britain.
Saudi Arabia is attempting to install its own puppet regime led by a strongman who claim to be democratic but more likely will institute a secular dictatorship subservient to a Wahabbi ideology (i.e. As Assad is to Iran‘sÂ Wilayet al-Faqih).
Both Turkey and Qatar are attempting to install their own puppet regime led by the Muslim Brotherhood who claim to be democratic but more likely will institute a dictatorship with a religious extreme ideology (i.e. Taliban).
Iran, Iraq, Hezbollah, Russia, and China are sustaining the Assad regime.
The United States has outsourced their Syria policy to Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. France is following but to a lesser extent.
Israel is not interfering in the Syrian Civil War but is diplomatically active to see Iran, the Assad regime, and Hezbollah dismantled in favor of regimes in Syria, Iran and Lebanon that do not threaten its security or its people.
(Part 2: The Individual Roles of Countries)