Monday, March 28, 2016

Syrian Sunni business class and the Syrian regime

From Carol:  "With much of the attention about Syria fixed on the return of Palmyra to the Syrian army's fold, I find it intriguing that to this day most of the big businessmen/cronies have stuck it out with Assad.  This includes most of the big Sunni business syndicates in Aleppo, Damascus, Homs and Hama. Sure, there are reports that some businessmen are playing all sides by keeping shabiha and FSA groups in their back pockets, but I reckon they know something that we don't... that is that Assad's forces are far, far stronger on the ground than they are being represented in world news, and that has been the case, I reckon, since the start of this bloody war. Word is that even the businessmen that relocated to Egypt or other countries are keen to return under the previous terms arranged with the Assad regime when the situation on the ground allows. I reckon these businessmen would have cut ties with the regime altogether if they truly believed that its end was in sight. 

The bolded part is my doing.

Sunnis (and others) who harbor genuine misgivings toward the government may still feel more threatened by the armed opposition. These feelings are likely to have crystallized given the prevalence of radical Sunni Islamist currents within the insurgents. These sentiments are reflected in numerous segments of Syria’s Sunnis. They are most apparent, however, among urban Sunnis, including the middle- and upper-class strata and, in particular, the business and merchant classes that were cultivated by the Ba’athist regime over many years.[25] The armed opposition has singled out a number of powerful Sunni businessmen for their purported roles in helping to sustain the Ba’athists, including the organization of irregular militias; and the smuggling of hard currency, arms, and critical goods.[26]"