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Tensions among Alawites in Syria

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BEIRUT — Rumblings of discontent within Syria’s Alawite minority are presenting a new challenge to President Bashar al-Assad’s efforts to retain power in the face of an expanding armed rebellion, calling into question the loyalties even of his own sect in the conflict ravaging the country.

Assad has increasingly come to rely on the 2.5 million-strong Alawite community for support as Syria’s Sunni majority has flocked to join the rebellion, sharpening the sectarian dimensions of an uprising that began as a largely spontaneous quest for greater freedoms inspired by the revolts sweeping the Arab world.

Alawites, in turn, have rallied behind Assad’s leadership, spurred by fears for their future in a Syria they would no longer run and in which Sunni Islamists may play a major role should the rebels win.

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It sounds like they are going to be a hunted minority when this is over - IF they lose control. The whole thing is a bloody, unending mess.

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