Armenians in Syria fear likely Muslim Brothers’ rule
YEREVAN - Hürriyet Daily News
Members of Syrian Armenian community who fled from violence in Syria gathered for a Sunday service in the garden of the Armenian Mother See’s Holy Echmiadzin Cathedral, 20 kilometers from the Armenian capital of Yerevan, on Aug 19.Members of Syria’s Armenian community who have fled to Armenia due to the ongoing violence in Syria fear the possibility that the Muslim Brotherhood may seize power there, if Bashar al-Assad’s regime falls.
“If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over in Syria, all Christians will have to leave the country,” Narbey N., a Syrian Armenian who recently fled to Armenia, told the Hürriyet Daily News. He also said that rebels in Syria shouted slogans such as: “Alawites [members of the Muslim sect to which al-Assad belongs] to coffins, Armenians to Beirut.”
The Daily News spoke to a group of Syrian Armenians gathered for a Sunday service in the garden of the Armenian Mother See’s Holy Echmiadzin Cathedral, 20 kilometers from the Armenian capital of Yerevan, on Aug. 19. They did not want to give their surnames to protect their safety.
The migrants are anxious about the future of Syria, but say they have left behind their family members and property, and insist that they will return to the country despite the dangers awaiting them. Armenians regard Syria as their second homeland after Anatolia, and their greatest anxiety stems from the possibility of the al-Assad regime falling and the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power.
“I hope the al-Assad regime does not fall, and that the country will not be taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood. Currently there are no attacks aimed at the Christian population, but their coming to power would be a catastrophe for Christians. In that case, all the Christian communities, including Armenians, would have to leave Syria. The U.S. and other Western states have already lost their Christian values and do not care about us, in the face of such political issues,” Narbey N. said. He believes the Armenian community is experiencing a second catastrophe that could possibly equal the 1915 tragedy, when hundreds of thousands were massacred or forced to migrate by the Ottoman Empire.
‘Alevites in Syria also under threat’
Not only Christians, but also Alawites, are under threat, said Harutyun S. “An inevitable Sunni-Alawite conflict is impending. Turkey supports al-Assad’s fall, but also does not want an independent Kurdish state. But al-Assad’s fall will make the founding of a Kurdish state inevitable. The Armenian community does not want Syria to be divided,” he said.
Narbey N. said he and his family had arrived in Yerevan via Turkey and Georgia, after a difficult journey lasting 40 hours, using a car with an Armenian license plate. Many Syrian Armenians have been fleeing Syria using similar vehicles, he said.
“When the insurgents ask for passports, we show them Armenian passports. Everyone does. After passing the Turkish border, [they] head to Georgia without trouble, and arrive in Yerevan that way,” he said, adding that the conflict in Syria had grown more intense in the last 15 days, with explosions generally taking place during the evening hours, despite everything seeming normal during the daytime.
Despite the dilemma of the Syrian Armenians, Armenia’s Diaspora Ministry does not have a clear-cut policy on those fleeing Syria, and has not announced an official number of the amount of people who have arrived in the country. Despite this, Syrian Armenians have not experienced problems obtaining residence permits.