There’s a small group of Shia “Twelvers” who think that if they fight on the side of Bashar Al Assad in Syria, their messiah will appear and Armageddon will begin.
Hassan Hassan, a Middle East scholar and columnist blogged about these peculiar fellows recently and, in particular, a video they posted online:
[They posted a YouTube video] showing a crowd of Iraqi Shia beating their chests and chanting.
The chants suggest that there are signs that Shia’s hidden imam is due to appear. The signs include the Syrian uprising and the rise of the Syrian rebels. The chants seem to call on Shia worshipers to go to Syria to fight alongside the Assad regime.
This small sect of Shia fighters believe that Mahdi, the lost twelfth imam, will reappear during the fight against Assad. This makes the Free Syrian Army and any Sunni extremists (Jabhat al Nusra) kind of like the army of evil, fighting against the forces of good.
Hassan says he thinks powerful political forces are at play here, in order to delude and recruit fighters to keep Assad in power:
Young men from Lebanon and Iraq are being dragged into this bloody war to defend the pathological criminal that is Bashar Al Assad. These are still a tiny minority that do not represent Shia but they are dangerous because they are deranged band of savages that are sparking a dangerous civil war across the region.
The civil war in Syria began two years ago as a part of the Arab Spring, and has since turned into the bloodiest ongoing conflict in the region. Clashes between Bashar Al Assad’s army and the fractious rebels have resulted in the deaths of 70,000 people thus far.
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