Syrian Circassians between two fires
24/11/2011 16:59
Expert's Club

Anti-dictatorship wave of Arab revolutions that started in Tunis has come to Syria after Egypt and Libya. Rebelled population calls upon the Government of Bashar Al-Assad to resign. Assad has stubbornly resisted to leave his post and several times refused to comply with his promise to stop violence against opponents that he gave to heads of countries of the League of Arab States.

Western countries have repeatedly advised Bashar Assad to find common ground with the opposition or step down.

Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose representatives have been engaged in negotiations for a few months without result with the authorities in Syria, denounced the dictatorial policies of Bashar Al-Assad, and ordered withdrawal of families of Turkish diplomats and professionals from Damascus. France also withdrew its ambassador from Syria.

After lengthy consultations, leadership of the league issued a statement that they have to exclude Syria from their union.

Only Iran and Russia remain that support Syria. Russia that has lost influence in the Arab world is trying to maintain its position in Syria by supplying them with weapons, providing political and moral support.

In this situation, a visit to Syria of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill that took place in mid-November seems very interesting. Its official purpose was meeting with the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Ignatius IV. Patriarch Kirill met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Prime Minister Adel Safar, Grand Mufti of Syria Ahmad Badr Al-Din, Christian congregation and clerics; he carried out service in Orthodox churches, which apart from Arab Christians, was attended by permanent residing or temporary visiting faithfuls from Russia and other countries.

Russian Patriarch's visit to Syria, meetings and conversations with senior political and spiritual leaders of the country and the Christian congregation that he held there had one goal - to reduce anti-government charge of the Orthodox population. But demonstrations of the rebel forces continue to become increasingly acute.

Opponents of Bashar Assad reminded him that his father, General Hafez al-Assad came to power as a result of a military coup that they had arranged and he retained presidency for 29 years. During his presidency, the uprising organized by Islamic group Muslim Brotherhood was drowned in blood and as a result about 40 thousand people were killed.

Opponents of the regime did not fail to recall also that in 1955 Hafez al-Assad received military training in the Soviet Union and over the years Russian officers were his advisers.

Bashar Assad used to have more liberal and flexible policies than his father. Both father and son had great trust and respect for Circassians and involved them in processes aimed at strengthening their power.

After months of riot the situation with Circassians living in Syria, whose ancestors were expelled from the Caucasus by the Russian authorities in the XIX century for religious and other reasons, gradually began to worsen. Over these years, Circassian elite has been formed in Syria, which won a significant place in all spheres of public life, industry, agriculture, commercial industry, but mainly in administration bodies. For decades Circassians have been serving the country that gave them shelter when they needed it, and they in turn, followed their Caucasian traditions and tried to express their gratitude with selfless work and devotion.

Because of this situation there is a real danger that in case of change of the Bashar Assad regime Circassians may lose all privileges and may have to experience punishment and humiliation that befell supporters of the ousted presidents of Libya and Iraq.

Victims of repression of law enforcement agencies have become more than 3,500 Syrian nationals. The main core of these agencies is composed of persons of Circassian origin, and the population knows this very well. The rebels are openly calling on Circassians to stand beside them and fight together against the dictatorial regime, or leave the country.

Circassians who live in other states are expressing their discontent towards their compatriots that live in Syria accusing them that by supporting the Syrian regime they thereby are providing service to leadership of a country that showed cruelty and unspeakable violence to their ancestors. Circassians of Syria understand that if they turn away from the ruling power, it would be equivalent to a confrontation with Russia and this will create new difficulties for those who wish to return to their historic homeland. But the main thing that is unacceptable for them is leaving people whom they swore loyalty for years in this difficult situation.

Leaders of the Circassian diaspora in various countries have asked heads of Arab countries, Turkey and Russia, including Kabardino-Balkaria, Adygea and Karachaevo-Cherkessia, to take measures for implementation of the repatriation process in the Caucasus of their Syrian countrymen that found themselves in danger and to provide them with various forms of assistance.

Consent to receive refugees and those Syrian Circassians that are in a difficult situation was expressed by Turkey alone. Meantime Russia announced that according to its information the situation in the Circassian community of Syria does not require intervention of the Russian authorities.

Other answer from the Russian leadership could not be expected, since it strongly resisted and opposed the return of descendants of the Circassian Muhajirs to their historical homeland, and second, by the hands of Circassians it is trying to extend stay of the current regime of Syria in power.

Encouraged by the Russian support Bashar al-Assad publicly announced on November 20th that he would continue with all the ferocity to suppress proponents of overthrow of the legitimate authority and in case of foreign intervention he would sacrifice his life to protect his country.
Only joint efforts of the international progressive forces can influence the current Syrian regime and that will save the country from further bloodshed, Circassians from being "between two fires" and Bashar al-Assad from repetition of the fate of Gaddafi.

In case of using the material the hypperlink on the Expert Club is obligatory