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Geostrategy-Direct,, November 8, 2006

WASHINGTON – Iran is moving in on Syria to the point of encouraging Alawis
and Sunnis to convert to Shi’ite Islam.

Syrian opposition sources said the regime of President Bashar Assad has
given Iran “carte blanche” in Syria. Unlike his late father, Bashar has
allowed Iranian clerics to spread the Shi’ite religion in Syria.

“Syrians have been observing over the last year a dangerous phenomena mostly
witnessed by an alarming number of non-Shia turning to Khomeini-style Shia
in return for financial rewards,” the opposition Reform Party of Syria
stated. “Whole villages and urban areas are adopting the Hizbullah model
whereby clinics, schools and social services are provided by Iran in return
for Syrians to convert to Shi’ism.”

In August 2006, RPS stated, Iran opened two centers in the Syrian port of
Latakia. The centers, which teach Farsi, have been converting Sunni Muslims.

“Assad is logically calculating that if Hizbullah, with its 15,000 fighters
and a God-like following of its figurehead Sheik [Hassan] Nasrallah, can
achieve with $100 million a year the military prowess it exhibited against
Israel then why not turn all of Syria into a larger Hizbullah laboratory in
the hope of attaining the same results?” the Syrian opposition party stated.

Sunnis comprise 70 percent of Syria. About 11 percent of the country
consists of the ruling Alawite community, with the remainder Christians and

Opposition sources said the spread of Shia in Iran has angered many Sunnis,
particularly those aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. Sunni clerics
envision a backlash against Iran and its representatives.

“Many [Sunni clerics] have voiced the following logic: We see the next
confrontation in the Middle East along the lines of Israel vs. Iran and we
have no choice but to stand by Israel to protect our religion,” RPS stated.

“This logic emanates from the fact that no Sunni Arab country has the
military competence to stand-up to the Iran-Syria-Hizbullah axis and also
because Israel, unlike Iran, is not interested in converting Sunni Muslims,”
it said.


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