One of the most urgent and least discussed reasons to justify foreign military intervention in the Syrian civil war is not just the potential takeover of the country by the most fanatic of the Sunni rebel groups, but the potentially disastrous fate that awaits her Alawi or more accurately Nuseiri minority, once the Sunni rebels gain the upper hand. Unless a powerful foreign military force is deployed to the country before the end of this year, there is a real possibility that a Rwanda-scale massacre of Nuseiri Syrian civilians will occur, even though the vast majority of Nuseiris have had nothing to do with the Assad regime’s war crimes.
Just next door to Syria, another Middle East minority, Israel’s Jews, is struggling to define its place and the fate of its future generations in the complex fabric of ethno-cultural groups that call the Levant their home. While a powerful military and a nuclear arsenal have thus far spared this minority the need to answer for the crimes of their own fanatics, it is unclear how in fifty years their great-grandchildren, who by then might represent 25% of Israel’s population, will deal with a rebellion by the non-Jewish majority within their borders. (Let alone the fact that Jews are likely already a minority within the borders of historical Palestine.)
It is possible that in the Levant as a whole and as happened in the Balkans after the bloody civil wars of the 1990s, ethnic solidarity based on nationalist mythology will be trumped by an individualistic consumerist culture that raises economic development and personal enrichment to the level of a nationalist ideology.
Just as happened in Serbia and Croatia under the economic incentive programs of the EU, when both countries jettisoned the nationalist mythology that had caused them so much pain in the 1990s and handed over their own war criminals to the International Court in the Hague, we could see discredited Pan-Arab and Pan-Islamist ideologies in the Levant replaced with a down to earth and politically innocuous me-first ideology of personal enrichment. If that happens over the next fifty years, official national borders between Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon might remain; however, group identity politics will wither away as 21st century transportation and communication technologies will allow labor and capital to easily move across borders for the highest returns.
What hope will Israel’s Jews then have of maintaining their military and economic grip over the Palestinian majority inside the country’s 1967 borders in fifty years, when they become a 25% minority and the countries around them rapidly develop and integrate economically?