Syria’s New Demographics Create Recruitment Options for Iran, Hezbollah
JNS.org – The Israel Defense Forces has identified a new threat in the form of demographic changes in Syria resulting in a significant rise in Shi’ite and Alawite populations, according to a recent report by Israel Hayom.
“The concern is that as the distress of Syrian civilians increases, Iran and Hezbollah will exploit the situation to recruit Shi’ite youth, like they did in Lebanon,” said the report.
It noted that Syrian President Bashar Assad “appears to be trying to restore his country to the independent status it held prior to the war,” adding that in the past year-and-a-half, Assad seems to have been “reborn,” and that the Damascus regime has gained control over more than 60 percent of the territory it possesses prior to the outbreak of 2011 civil war.
“Control over the rest of Syria is divided between Turkey, the Kurds (with support from the United States) and the rebels, who still retain a hold on a major district of Idlib,” said the report.
While in 2011, Syria was home to 21.3 million residents—59 percent Sunni Muslims, 11 percent Alawite Muslims and only 4 percent Shi’ites—now the area under Assad’s control is home to only 10 million people, with Shi’ite Muslims making up 10 percent of the population and Alawites 30 percent, according to the report.