Since 2011, I've noticed two main trends in my conversations with #Syria's Alawis:

1) Levels of frustration/resentment among loyalists have grown exponentially

2) Past dissidents, including those who served long, torturous sentences in regime prisons, have pivoted towards Assad
In March, I wrote a thread about the mounting grievances of #Syria's 'loyalist' Alawi community. Since #Russia's intervention in 2015, fear of genocide at the hands of the 'Sunni jihadist' rebels has been discursively displaced by anger at the regime.
Whenever apprehensions over a Sunni rebel force are relegated to the background, #Syria's Alawis begin openly criticizing the regime. As I wrote for @trtworld:

"Facebook pages are flooded with indictments of the ruling class. References to the 'thieves' that run the country...
– once a critique voiced cautiously at home – represents the new discursive norm...soldiers demand discharge while disabled veterans openly decry government abandonment. Alawite frustration, which has long resided under the surface, is finding its voice..."
In particular, the narrative of “shababna” (our young men) having “sacrificed” their lives, their health, and their futures 'serving' in the army while the sons of officials live in luxury invokes the broadest and most intense emotional response among members the community.
This is captured quite well by one of the contacts I interviewed from Latakia:

"Sawsan, a retired teacher whose husband is a former army officer, asserts that their collective pensions do not preclude the likelihood of going hungry. 'After all these years,' she said...
'I need to ask my daughters abroad to send money simply so we can eat. It’s humiliating.'

Meanwhile, the offspring of the Assad-Makhlouf clains flaunt their lavish lifestyles while Bashar implores #Syrians to remain "steadfast" in the face of an "international conspiracy."
Discussions within the community constantly allude to this. The disparity between the elites and working class Alawis is inexorably connected to the narrative of sacrifice. The perception of being cheated/deceived into this nightmarish reality is extremely widespread. #Syria
This is further pronounced by the fact that a comfortable middle class (so to speak) no longer exists in Assad's #Syria. The economic crisis has created a reality in which most of the community faces a genuine risk of starvation.
Most feel duped. Having fought for Assad out of conviction that he guaranteed the survival of #Syria's minorities, Alawis have inevitably come to a different conclusion: They now intuitively understand that the regime's preservation has been coloured with rivers of their blood.
This is not to mention the historic murder, displacement, and humiliation of #Syria's Sunnis, with whom their relations will now be forever tainted. Alawi involvement in this process, reluctant or active, has alienated #Syria's Sunnis in a manner that implicates the entire sect.
In this sense, Assad laid a trap for which the Alawis fell: their disproportionate representation in the armed forces, mukhabarat, and pro-regime militias now makes them reliant on Alawi hegemony, as the entire sect is often implicated in the regime's criminality. #Syria
Though the silent majority has always criticized the regime, their communal calculus favoured it simply in relation to a fear of the unknown - the notion, permanently imprinted into their collective psyche, that replacing Alawi hegemony with Sunni domination would be suicidal.
Prior to the war, they would (in the presence of trusted company) allude to government corruption, the Shabeeha, and their disdain at the elite lifestyle of المسؤولين وأولادهم, "the officials and their sons." However, many would qualify this with "but the Sunnis hate us." #Syria
"They never forgave us for #Hama" and "the Muslim Brotherhood are everywhere waiting for an opportunity to kills us." The average Alawi I encountered would often say "we can't stand the big shots and the Shabeeha, and we don't like the regime, but we fear what follows." #Syria
Pivoting back to the second second trend (see tweet 👇), @fmohamad2 and I have seen a pronounced pro-regime shift among former dissidents. In 2016, I met a distant cousin I had previously only heard of. When we discussed #Syria, his position shocked me.
At the time, Madaya (and many other rebel-held areas) had been enduring brutal sieges/barrel bomb campaigns orchestrated by the regime. I used this to stress the regime's savage nature. His response: "I lived in Madaya for years. The people there are primitive and sectarian."
I disagreed then posed a question: Does their "primitiveness" justify mass slaughter? His second response - silence - was perhaps more revealing. His implicit endorsement of Assad's criminality came out as he stated that "the regime is the only thing between them and us." #Syria
This former critic had been arrested so many times that it had become a normal part of his life. The mukhabarat once came for him while he was writing an exam as an undergrad. He calmly pleaded with them: "let me finish my exam first, I beg you. You can arrest me after." #Syria
This same dissident now justified the regime's atrocities and reproduced the sectarianism he had once opposed. His critiques softened. He fell for the civilizational framing of the regime: Assad is brutal, he reasoned, but he guarantees security, order, and secularism in #Syria.
After spending years in their dungeons, he unwittingly became a lobbyist for a dynasty he once sought to topple.

Last week, my dad ( @fmohamad2) was insulted on Facebook by an old friend for condemning #Hezbollah over its tashbeeh in #Syria and #Lebanon.
His friend was also a former dissident who spent years being tortured in regime prisons. My dad's criticism of #Hezbollah was enough to elicit a hyper-nationalistic response with sectarian undertones. "Your criticism of #Hezbollah puts you on the same side as #Israel," he stated.
"Were it not for the regime, the jihadists would've reached Latakia and slaughtered us all." Once a left-leaning secular nationalist who organized alongside Sunnis and Christians, he now rallied under the umbrella of the regime's 'protection and security.'

He proceeded. "If conspirators attack, I am personally willing to pick up a rifle and guard Bashar and the presidential palace."

Several others exist. While there are many Alawis who have remained (publicly or privately) critical of the regime since 1970, it's important to...
to map out the intellectual regression of former opponents of Assad who have fallen victim to (and effectively reproduced) the regime's propaganda re #Syria's minorities. In many ways, understanding the trajectory of their positions is central to comprehending the conflict.
Their positions are a reflection of the evolution of their identities, including their underlying beliefs, fears, and anxieties. Examining the ideational nexus between former Alawi loyalists & opponents is a crucial (yet overlooked) part of #Syria's complex and transversal war.
You can follow @NizarMohamad1.
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