July 31, 2005
Alawi-Ismaili violence in Syria
No value added, just pointing to a Josh Landis narrative of a trip to Qadmous, where Alawi villagers attacked a number of Ismaili-owned stores recently. I am having no luck whatsoever finding any news summaries (or mention whatsoever) of the event outside Landis' site. Some excerpts under the cut, but go read the whole thing.
Confessional Violence: Alawites Attack Ismaili stores in Qadmous
27 stores and several homes were burnt or destroyed last week in Qadmous. All of them belonged to Ismailis. “I blame the government and the state 100% for failing to stop this violence,” said Samir, an Alawi villager, whose home is only a few kilometers from Qadmous. “Where was the Baath Party? Where were the police,” he asked? “There were a hundred signs that something was going to happen, but no one did anything,” he lamented. “Now what will happen to our town? It will never return to what it was.”
When I got off the bus in the center of Qadmous yesterday, I didn’t notice anything wrong. Not at first. On the contrary, Qadmous is a handsome town and prosperous compared to the forlorn and dusty villages that hug the main road along the hot dessert plain leading from Homs up to feet of the mountain region shared by Syria’s minority sects. The greenery and cool mountain air of Qadmous is so refreshing and welcome to the traveler who arrives from the plains that he breaths deeply and rejoices.
But everything was not alright in Qadmous. The bus deposited me in front of the police station in the center of town – a stately building of neatly cut stone set three meters in from the street. It’s imposing size and calm authority, meant to symbolize the steady hand of the state, belied the fact that on the night of the riots, the six police stationed there did not venture out and did nothing to stop the marauding crowds. Perhaps they didn't know what to do in the face of such multitudes and disorder, except to call for help? The Alawite district president, originally from Latakia, is now fired, accused of being interested only in illicit gain. He failed completely, either to stop the violence when it began, or, more importantly, to take measures that might have prevented it before it started.
“So how did it start?” I asked my father-in-law, when I was alone with him that evening and my wife was putting our child to bed? He had been troubled all day long, knowing this question was coming and being unsure how to answer so an American could understand.
Abu Firas measures himself by his grandfather’s accomplishments; last weak he found himself wanting. He was powerless to stop the violence and unable to keep the region on the road to progress established by his forefathers.
“There are no longer any wujha’ [literally “faces” or community elders] of consequence in the region that could step into the void to assume authority and restrain the baser instincts of hot heads and the mob,” he explained. “The younger generation listens to no one. There is no chamber of commerce in Qadmous, no community organizations or leaders of the town able to stop this sort of confessional nonsense and repair relations between the communities before they ignite,” Abu Firas lamented. “Why is this so? Because the government doesn’t permit it. It must control everything and appoint its people. There is only the Party. That is why no one does anything. We sit on our verandas drinking tea and visiting their relatives. It is a waste.” Not knowing whether to blame himself or his government, Abu Firas blamed his government, but he was not happy doing so. He once loved the Baath Party.
Posted by tomscud at July 31, 2005 09:53 AM
Filed Under: Levant
What is the population break out in the area?
Posted by: The Lounsbury at August 1, 2005 09:21 AM
No idea. Landis says the town proper is 50-50. but the outlying villages are all Alawi.
Posted by: Tom Scudder at August 1, 2005 12:45 PM