new problems are emerging in Syria where the Ba'ath socialist regime of President Hafez al-Assad, who is firmly in the Soviet orbit, is being rocked by religious tensions.
President Assad belongs to the minority Shia Alawite sect of Moslems. The majority Sunni Moslems are now engrossed in a religious upsurge, largely inspired by Sheikh Ahmed of Mecca, guardian of the holy places in Islam's most sacred city, who has been prophesying jihad [holy war] against Israel and the day of judgment within the year.
Inflaming the purist Sunni Moslem Brotherhood in Syria is the fact that President Assad has had close links with Shia Moslem holy man Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran.
As a result, Syria has been rocked in recent months by a string of bombings and assassinations. Most of the victims claimed by these anti-government attacks have been members of the Alawite community and close supporters of President Assad who control key posts in the government, the party and the armed forces. In mid-June, a gang of Moslem Brotherhood terrorists gunned down some 50 young officer cadets in a military academy at Aleppo, Syria.
June 3, the Egyptian Middle East News Agency (MENA) claimed that Syrian security authorities had recently foiled a coup against President Assad's government. The MENA report added that the security situation in Syria was rapidly deteriorating following the assassination of three more ranking members of Mr. Assad's Ba'ath party. (p. 8.)
Considering the tragic civil war presently raging in Syria caused by the Assad's regime bloody suppression of initially peaceful protesters it is fascinating to see these events described.