The dark force in Syria is not the Alawi religion. It’s not exactly the cult of Hafez Al Assad, either. Only the aged and the infirm refuse to acknowledge his death. But love for the sacred sanctuary he invented, the one protected by the blue-eyed family of pilots and horsemen, has not died. The dark force in Syria is excessive belief in this realm of unreality. All those people who served in its police force, killed on its behalf, and kept the silence while the killing was going on carry its banner. This species of belief is a non-denominational phenomenon. It is enforced by the Alawis but Sunnis—and Kurds and Christians—are most welcome. For the time being, it is holding fast.

“The Cult: The Twisted, Terrifying Last Days of Assad’s Syria.” — Theo Padnos, The New Republic

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