First, last, and always, you have to remember that Arabs are feudal, tribal, and sectarian.
Just as I predicted in my blog of April 27th (read April 27th blog), the fighting in Syria has become intensely sectarian with Bashir Assad’s minority Alawi sect mercilessly attacking Sunni strongholds. Yesterday, Assad’s tank and infantry forces attacked Hama, and the reports are that between 24 (actually verified) and 80 (human rights oganizations’ estimate) ‘citizens/rebels’ were killed.
The Syrian Sunni Muslim Brotherhood issued the following statement about Hama yesterday accusing the Alawite elite of ethnic/sectarian cleansing: “Syria is witnessing a war of sectarian cleansing. The regime has linked its open annihilation with the crescent of Ramadan. It is a war on the identity and beliefs of the Syrian nation … on Arab Muslim Syria” (‘Arab Muslim Syria’ means ‘Sunni Syria’).
Of course the Brotherhood is correct in what the Alawis are trying to do–but this is a conflict that has gone on for centuries–with the Alawis long being attacked by the Sunnis for being ‘outcasts’ and ‘apostates’. It was only when Bashir Assad’s father Hafez took complete power in 1970-71 that Syria’s Sunni Muslims suddenly found themselves on the receiving end of the discrimination stick. By the way, lest we forget, it was Bashir Assad’s uncle Rifaat Al-Assad (Hafez’s younger brother) who personally led a campaign ostensibly against the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama in February 1981–that resulted in the deaths of between 20,000 and 40,000 civilians.
Nevertheless, it is crassly disingenuous for the Brotherhood to accuse anyone of ethnic/sectarian cleansing because the elimination of opposing sects and ideas is one of its primary goals; one merely has to look at any place in which the Muslim Brotherhood has gained power to see sectarian cleansing in action. For example, look at how the Brotherhood is currently attempting to wipe out Christians in Egypt.
Frankly, your humble servant finds it impossible to be sympathetic to either side in Syria because both sides would like to see Israel wiped off the map. Let them attack each other instead.