Damascus, September 7, 2017.
In Syria, most Christians and other religious minorities, primarily Alawites and Druze, support Assad, certainly according to conventional wisdom. Polling data such as they are indicate that a majority of the total Syrian population, not just religious minorities, backs him in the civil war. “Even the Sunnis” will take Assad over “the extremists,” Antoine Audo, the Chaldean Catholic bishop of Aleppo, told. He estimated that 80 percent of Syria’s Christians would vote for Assad in an election. Syria’s bishops, both Catholic and Orthodox, are adamant in their defense of the secular regime, which they see as the only practical bulwark against greater chaos or the establishment of a Sunni regime that would be hostile to Christianity.
In a proxy war between a U.S.–Sunni alliance and the Russian–Iranian alliance in Syria, the U.S. would be fighting not only Assad, Putin, and Rouhani but, it would appear, also the Christians remaining in or returning to Aleppo, encouraged by the Syrian government’s recapture of the city last December. What persecuted religious minorities perceive to be their self-interest in the Syrian civil war complicates the argument for deposing or weakening Assad.