By Frazier Fathers
This past week’s decapitating strike by Syrian opposition forces resulted in the deaths of Defense Minister Dawood Rajiha, his “deputy” Asef Shawkat (Assad’s brother-in law), Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani and Hisham Ikhtiar (Syria’s National Security Chief). The brazen bombing showed that the situation in Syria has recently deteriorated much quicker than many expected; the ability of the ever emboldened opposition to strike at the higher echelons of the Syrian regime is becoming a potential game changer. As the situation continues to spiral out of control, reports of ethnic cleansing of neighbourhoods and villages to the driving out of Iraqi refuges are raising sectarian tensions.
With pundits all agreeing that it is not a matter of “if” the Assad regime will fall but rather “when,” attention needs to be paid to what the aftermath of his fall might be. Syria is a divided nation in a divided region, where the majority Sunni population has been repressed at the hands of the Alawites (Shiites). Meanwhile the Kurds of Syria much like Kurds in Iraq and Turkey has suffered years of repression that has led to various nationalistic movements within the group. Smattered between these major groups are enclaves of Druze and Christians who are positioned to be potential targets of reprisal for their years of supporting the Assad regime.