Religion is said to be the primary cause of violence that has erupted in many Middle Eastern countries, such as Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. Causing a surge of political unrest that has spread into bordering countries, thus leaving opportunities for neighboring countries to spread their influence and power through religion creating even more instability. Shiite Muslims from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran have flooded into Syria, mostly Hezbollah militants. While Sunni Muslims, some affiliated with al Qaeda and have rushed in to join rebels, forcing the original political conflict into a religious confrontation. Both sides fear that whoever wins power will wipe out the loser, with the use of power of each side becoming significantly more radicalized and militarized. Religious civil wars are longer and bloodier than other types of clashes. They are also twice as likely to recur and twice as deadly to noncombatants, especially in the Middle Eastern region where suicide bombings and other destructive means directed toward civilians in order to force change.
People hold onto religious fights longer than battles over land and water. Some combatants in Syria appear to believe that fighting in the name of God justifies the most barbaric measures.
According to international reports and U.S. intelligence, Assad's regime has been just as brutal, killing at least 100,000 citizens. Middle East experts say it's imperative to understand the major religious players in Syria, and why they are fighting. The situation is Syria is fairly fluid, with lots of conflicting reports and shifting alliances.
Alawites a small secretive sect makes up just 12% of the Syrian population, but members have held prominent seats of power since the 1970s. Alawites consider themselves Muslims, but most mainstream Muslims call them heretics. They've been ostracized almost since their 9th-century founding, so they keep many of their core beliefs secret. Despite that, many Alawites initially joined the uprising against Bashar al-Assad, calling for greater freedom and government transparency. As the conflict progressed,...