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 (ä′lə-wīt′) also A·la·wi (ä′lä-wē′)
n. pl. A·la·wites also A·la·wis or Alawi
A member of a branch of Shiism practiced especially in northwest Syria and adjacent parts of Turkey and Lebanon.

[Arabic 'alawī, follower of Ali, Alawite (from 'Alī, Ali ibn Abi Talib + -awī, variant of , adj. suff.) + -ite.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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An activist in Deir al-Zor describes the Kurdish cadres present across officially Arab-led bodies as "the new Alawis," referring to the sect of the Assad family, whose members hold most of the powerful positions in Assad's Syria.
(13) In my long-term ethnographic research from 2010 to 20141 examined the conditions of religious co-existence between diverse populations in Hatay's administrative capital Antakya, composed of bilingual (Turkish-Arabic) Alawis, Jews, Orthodox Christians, and Alevi and Sunni Turks, as well as a small number of Armenians.
His book, "The Nusayri Alawis: An Introduction to the Religion, History and Identity of the Leading Minority in Syria," was published in 2010 by Brill-Leiden.)
A History of the 'Alawis: From Medieval Aleppo to the Turkish Republic.
Internally, levers of power are held largely by Alawis who, at 12 percent of the population, are one-sixth the size of the Sunnis.
Rifi added that his contenders would run under co existential rubrics between Sunnis Alawis, Christians and civil community activities willing to join his list.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar threw away their good relations with Syria as soon as they saw an opportunity for Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood to take over, seeking to achieve their goal at any price, by supporting extremists and bringing down the alawis. According to the diplomat, it was another mistake.
Which means that Iran must understand that minority Alawi rule over the country will not survive national elections; regional authorities could be created and the Alawis and others could administer their own regions.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has mostly been able to count on the support of fellow Alawis in the regime's coastal heartland in northern Syria.
What sparked off the protests to begin with was a water dispute in Daraa, the so-called epicentre of the (at first) peaceful Syria revolution, with Alawis and Druze doing the protesting.
In Syria, Assad belongs to the Alawis sect which is closely identified with the Shia sect.
And then there's ISIS and what the Saudis call America's 'unholy' alliances with the Shia and Alawis.