This is a great read on the story of the ‘Alawis, the religious minority which rules Syria.  Syria is the latest Near/Middle Eastern country to be in the news with protests against the government.  As was, it can be argued, the case in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, the rulers in Syria are fairly protective of the Christian minority there; if they fall, all bets are off, no doubt.  This is not an angle that dominates much of the news right now but it is something we need to follow.