2015 May 23 Saturday
War Nerd Gary Brecher On Alawite Casualties, Motivation
The Alawite (SAA) army in Syria has done well given the small population it draws upon.
The fact that the SAA may eventually collapse isnít really as interesting as the fact that this tiny minority sectís army has lasted so long against a Sunni majority that could swarm it with sheer numbers, if the Sunni Syrian population was really as fierce as the media make them out to be.
He says the Sunni Revival is greatly exaggerated. A fairly small fraction of the Sunnis are making Jihad.
The whole essay is interesting. The Alawites are more motivated because they are desperate. They'd be better off seceding from the rest of Syria. But I do not know that the rest of Syria would let them.
Fear of genocide might drive a large fraction of Alawites to flee into Lebanon, and possibly destabilize Lebanon in the process.
My sympathy is with the Middle Eastern minorities that have to live under Sunni Arab majority or even Shia Arab majority rule. The minorities ought to be given their own territories broken off into new sovereignties. But that won't happen, except for the Kurds.
By Randall Parker at 2015 May 23 10:15 PM
The author seems to suggest that the vast majority of the Sunnis don't fight very well. But his argument seems to focus only on the current generation of Muslim Arabs, and this might be due to the fact that they do not have a very entrenched military culture, as most Arabs lived under Ottoman rule where they were never fully trained as serious soldiers. But Turkey has a formidable military culture and a high percentage of the Turks fight to the death, even though 85 % of the Turkish DNA is a mixture of many nations who gradually became Muslims. And the majority of the Turks are Sunnis, just like over 100 million Central Asian Turkic people in the periphery of Russia. In fact, the leading ISIS fighters are of Central Asian Sunni background. Maybe the Pakistanis don't fight very well because they simply never had a warlike culture in their history, but this is not the case in Afghanistan, as the Soviet Union discovered. Moreover, more than a thousand years ago, the advancing Sunni Arab armies successfully conquered and dominated not only Iran, but even the Central Asian Turkic countries. In other words, it is still possible for future Sunni leaders to revive their old military histories and start an Islamic Empire after three or four more decades: what they need is charismatic leaders who can successfully combine politics with metaphysics.
Reason to be war-timid:
1) the falling birthrate.
It is easy to have new warriors when your females gave birth to 7 children; when they start to gave birth to less children the supply of new warriors / soldiers start to dry up. And if you have large attrition, the problem compound.
2) many of the males able to fight in a war were killed in previous wars. They never had descendants and there is not a lot of solidarity with them or their families because of the tribal mindset.
Why Arabs Lose Wars
by Norvell B. De Atkine
Middle East Quarterly