The worst thing that could happen to any community or sect within our broader society is for it to be classed as one that gives priority to sectarian loyalty over national commitment. The honourable Alawite sect is facing this grave crisis, and it finds itself in an extremely unenviable position, particularly in light of the presence of a minority regime that continues to commit bloody massacres against its own people in its endeavour to establish a sectarian state. Lebanon’s Shiite community are facing the same crisis as they fight against their own conscience regarding their position on the situation in Syria, particularly with regards to its cast-iron security obligations in terms of weapons, finance and blood.
As history shows, nations endure, whilst sects fall into oblivion, migrate away from the region or are physically liquidated!
The Lebanese Druze, led by Walid Jumblatt, are also facing this same crisis; however regardless of your personal view of “Walid Bek”, he has managed to utilize a pragmatic policy to preserve the sect’s interests within the social fabric of the country. Lebanon’s Maronite community faced this same crisis, and they found themselves divided between backing the Arab Nationalist role, represented by bias towards Syria, or the Phoenician role, represented by mother France. This division remained in place until Pope John Paul II issued a papal bull calling on Lebanon’s Christians to accept and co-exist with the country’s Arab identity. The Kurdish community, in Syria, Turkey and Iraq, are also facing this same crisis, and they have decided that their harsh national experience in the above-mentioned countries can only be solved by the establishment of a strong Kurdish homeland that can bring together the Kurdish Diaspora and preserve the Kurdish national identity.
However the Kurdish state project is facing a number of difficult challenges. Firstly, there is the issue of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which exists as a Kurdish region, but needs to be officially declared as an [independent] state. The second issue relates to Syria, particularly the developing military struggle that is taking place in the country. This is not to mention Turkey’s stubborn political stance which strongly rejects the establishment of any Kurdish homeland that incorporates the Syrian and Turkish Kurdish communities.
What is happening now in the Arab world is that we are seeing minorities and communities contemplating the difficult choice between remaining within their existing multicultural states or resorting to the projects that are being strongly put forward today by some sectors, namely the project to secede and establish independent states in order to satisfy the rights of these minorities.
In summary, this is the hard choice between “unity” and “separation”. That is the question, and it is an extremely tough one!
Anybody who has observed the output of US think-tanks and policy institutes since the 1980s will no doubt be aware that they have long promoted the idea of multiple regional states as the best way to meet the requirements and demands of such minorities and sects, particularly after successive regional states have failed in this regard. Here we will see that this list includes Egypt’s Coptic and Nubian communities, the Berber community in Morocco, the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds in Iraq, Yemen’s Huthi rebels, the Nubian people of Sudan, Lebanon’s Druze community, the Tuareg people of Algeria and Libya and Bahrain’s Shiite community, not to mention Somalia, which appears to be headed towards even greater fragmentation and division! Certainly all of the above sects and communities are examining the trade-off between remaining within their current states, or responding to potentially risky and dangerous calls for secession and independence.
We must have the courage to acknowledge that the majority of national state projects have dealt with religious, ethnic and tribal minorities with some form of racism and inequality, and today it seems that it is time to pay the piper!