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King of Jordan: Assad may seek Alawite enclave (JERUSALEM POST) By GABRIELLA WEINIGER 08/08/12) Source: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=280431
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The King of Jordan, Abdullah II, who has ruled Jordan since the death of his father King Hussein in 1999, told "CBS This Morning" that Syrian President Bashar Assad will "stick to his guns" and not back down, but instead may try to form an "Alawite enclave" within Greater Syria.
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"He believes that he is in the right," Abdullah told Charlie Rose in Amman on Sunday. "I think the regime feels that it has no alternative, but to continue. ... I don´t think it´s just Bashar. It´s not the individual. It´s the system of the regime. So if Bashar was to exit under whatever circumstances, does whoever replace him, have the ability to reach out and transform Syria politically? So for Bashar, at the moment, if I if I´m reading the way he´s thinking, is he´s going do what he´s going to do indefinitely."
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He continued: "If he cannot rule Greater Syria, an Alawite enclave will be Plan B."
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Syria is ruled largely by members of an esoteric Islamic sect, the Alawites, who believe in the divinity of Ali, Mohammad´s son-in-law. They split from the main branch of Shi´ism more than a thousand years ago. This minority sect, which makes up a mere twelve percent of the population, are the backbone of Assad´s regime.
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France created an autonomous Alawite region in the 1930s, but it was under the four decades of Ba´ath Party rule that the sect came to have influence beyond its numbers.
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If the regime falls, the heartland of the Alawite community -- the northwest coastal mountains -- could be turned into a refuge from which to fight against a Sunni majority that has long resented the minority Alawite domination.
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Mass violence and killings in the villages of Houla in May and Qubeir in June fueled speculation that Assad is preparing to carve out an Alawite enclave in its core areas.
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"Plan B" would be an ominous scenario for a country that sits at the peak of the Middle East´s most turbulent battle lines. Any attempt to create a breakaway state could spark a wave of sectarian violence.
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Abdullah verified "Plan B" as the "worst case scenario for all of us, resulting in the break up of Greater Syria and land grabbing from all sides."
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Yet even in the face of this scenario, Abdullah seeks a political resolution to the conflict. The Jordanian king said, "I´m worried that the longer we take to find a political solution and the more the chaos continues then we may be pushing Syria into the abyss. So my point of view is let´s move as quickly as possible. I mean, conference after conference is great. International forums where we get the Russians and Chinese involvement is fine. But we can´t afford time... There´s a reality on the ground that´s catching us up, if it hasn´t already."
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Commenting on the hot issue of chemical weapons, Abdullah claimed they may be the trip wire for the international community to take action.
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"I think it´s a crisis where we have to react. The chemical weapons [are] something that scares everybody. What scares most of us is the chemical weapons falling into rebel hands. And who are those rebels? And obviously the use of chemical weapons against innocent people."
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Abdullah said he thinks the weapon sites need to be secured by the international community, although this should not be seen as an invitation for intervention: "I hope that you´re not looking at it as a reason for intervention. I think it´s a crisis where we have to react. I am weary of people looking at it as a reason [for intervention]."
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In a perhaps unintentional reference to past appeals for Western intervention, Abdullah continued: "The minute you cross the border with armed forces or the military, then it´s anybody´s guess what the outcome is."
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Syria´s president Bashar Assad is trying to crush a 17-month revolt against his rule in which more than 18,000 people have been killed. The deteriorating humanitarian situation is marked by increasing violence, spilling into civil war. This directly affects Syria´s neighbors, including the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which is home to over 36,000 refugees registered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).(© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 08/08/12)
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