To try to convince enraged young revolutionaries that this is not religiously fostered but rather the work of thugs who happen to be Alawites is futile. Whether the revolution succeeds, is repressed, or continues, a communal war could be the result.

And a Sunni-Alawite bloodbath in Syria could lead to something similar happening in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Lebanon. The result could also be a sectarian war that might last for generations.

The best option would be a military coup led by an Alawite general who would free political prisoners, initiate real and major reforms, imprison those guilty of corruption and murder in the current government, and bring a transformation to democracy. By bringing the Alawites credit for ending what is widely perceived as an Alawite regime, such an act could defuse hatreds and lead to national conciliation.

Thus, there is an additional factor making the downfall of the Assad regime even more important and pressing. Otherwise, both Syria and the region will pay a high price, with the victims being mostly innocent victims of communal and religious hatred on both sides. Hopefully, there is a Syrian general who understands this situation. Equally, it is vital that those in the West understand there is limited time and that a successful revolution in Syria followed by national conciliation is in everyone’s interest.