For their part the 'Alawis suffered from an acute sense of grievance, nourished over centuries, which explained the formidable energy, even the frenzy, with which this unfavored community snatched at education, wealth and power once the wheel of fortune turned. With their history of oppression and exploitation, it was to be expected that 'Alawis should seek redress for the injustices of the past and should be utterly determined never to be subdued again.
We arrive therefore at the provisional conclusion that the terrible murder of Rafik Hariri is aimed primarily at Bashar al-Assad and the moderate western-oriented redoubt in Damascus; it announces the great strategic break between old allies of twenty years' standing, Syria and Iran, the one unable to resign itself to the Shiite overbalancing of the Iraqi state, the other unable to do anything but support it, sometimes for reasons as much emotional as strategic.
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