Whether the present Syrian dictatorship is an Assad-clique conspiracy that implicates their fellow Alawis (my hunch) or an Alawi conspiracy fronted by the Assad family (the obvious reverse), I think it's obvious that one of the reasons the Sunni majority would be against the regime is sheer dogma: the Alawis are regarded as "anti-Muslims," heretics whose sin is worse than unbelief. (Which is not to discount another, more "progressive" motivation -- "Down with the tyrants!" -- which I'm pretty sure we all share.) And regardless of which end controls the wagging, it also seems obvious to me that the Alawis political awakening during the French mandate was a mutual co-optation whose initial motive on the Alawi side was simple self-defense: they'd gotten tired of ethnic-sectarian oppression, constant social-economic-political discrimination and the occasional pogrom. (My grab-bag of loose analogies includes Zionism and the Black Panthers.) And my take on the situation now is that the Assadists and most Alawis in general see it as a battle for their people's self-preservation, which might well be correct.
Put simply, I think if the revolution succeeds the chance for an anti-Alawi bloodbath is high, regardless of the mindset and motivations of the "revolutionary central committee." And that the mindset of those who'd commit a bloodbath or at least a pogrom would not be amenable to fine distinctions on the order of "the Grandma had no official position; let's concentrate only on the one government employee in the family." Historically speaking it's always more likely that they'll "kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out."
Give that, and given that mainstream news/opinion coverage labeled the rebels "the Sunni majority," I'm finding it rather damn difficult to work up more than a superficial visceral support for the Syrian uprising. And yes, despite knowing almost nothing about the actual day-to-day situation, I do think there are bound to be more currents at play than the Sunni Islamist one; nevertheless I can't help suspecting that the "Death to the heretics!" wing will come out on top. For one thing they've been opposing the Assad regime from its beginning in the the late '60s -- an extension of the ulama's centuries'-long effort to "command the good and forbid the evil."
From the admittedly little I know I'd prefer a CIA puppet regime to either Assadism or rule by the Muslim Brotherhood (or worse, the more "radical" Islamists). Which is not easy for me to say because I've hated the CIA since reading about Watergate and Vietnam when I was a kid in the early '70s.
What I'd really like is for those "innocent" Alawis to flee en masse, but short of a humongous UN interposition I don't foresee that happening.
Does anybody out there have more real, actual, concrete knowledge to share with me? Including translating articles etc. from Arabic, which I know not at all? I'd especially like to hear from people with "inside dope" that would elude the Associated Press.