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14 Feb, 2012 06:19

Syria: Seeds of sectarian conflict

Spiraling violence wracks Syria and the foot dragging by the West and Arab League to find a resolution to the conflict looks set to continue. Also, the appearance of al-Qaeda on the scene triggers worries the unrest could take on a sectarian nature.

Syria is a veritable melting pot of ethnic groups that have co-existed peacefully for many years, however RT correspondent Sara Firth says signs of “the polarizing conflict tearing apart much of the country” are opening cracks in this peaceful coexistence.“Until this crisis broke out the country was religiously diverse and tolerant has now become increasingly polarized and there are genuine fears about where those divisions might lead,” she said.During the General Assembly meeting on Monday UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay said she was “very distressed that the continued ruthless repression and deliberate stirring of sectarian tensions might soon plunge Syria into civil war.” However, the West has been so fixated on Syrian political rifts and reports of the Assad government’s brutal crackdowns that it has virtually ignored the rising pressures that have the potential to transform it into a sectarian conflict.Sara Firth said there is the possibility of a growing conflict between ruling President Assad’s Alawite sect that make up 12% of the population and the majority Muslim Sunni sect. She suggested the groups may come to loggerheads due to long-standing Sunni resentment of the Alawites’ elite positions in Syria’s government.