The Kalbiyya are a tribe, or tribal confederation, of the Alawite community in Syria. The Alawites, also known as Nusayris, are a prominent mystical religious group who follow a branch of the Twelver school of Shia Islam. They are divided into four tribes, sometimes described as tribal confederations: the Matawira, Haddadin, Khayyatin and Kalbiyya.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the Kalbiyya had a reputation for lawlessness and were in open conflict with the Ottoman authorities. In the 1850s, an English missionary, Samuel Lyde lived among them and built a mission and school.He subsequently published a negative but popular account of his time there, in which he wrote that he was convinced that they were like St Paul's description of the heathen: "filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness". He criticized their brigandage, feuds, lying and divorce and claimed that "the state of [their] society was a perfect hell upon earth".
The Kalbiyya consisted of five branches: Rashawneh, Junaydi, al-Nawasireh, al-Jurud, and al-Qarahilah. The Junayd family typically provided the confederation's leadership and was based at Tell Salhab, near Masyaf.
Role in Assad government
The 1963 Syrian coup d'état was led by three Alawites: Salah Jadid, Muhammad Umran and Hafez Al-Assad. Assad was from the Kalbiyya tribe, Umran from the Khayyatin, and Jadid from the Haddadin. Following Assad's seizure of sole power in 1970 (the Corrective Movement), part of his strategy was to concentrate control in the hands of members of the Kalbiyya tribe. In practice, active participation in the Assad government has, since then, been limited to members of the Kalbiyya tribe.
- Khoury, Philip S. (1992). Tribes and State Formation in the Middle East. p. 138. ISBN 978-0520070806.
- Commins, David (2004). Historical Dictionary of Syria. p. 28. ISBN 978-0810849341.
- "Lebanon: current issues and background, John C. Rolland)". 2003. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
- Kramer, Martin. "Syria's '‘Alawis and Shi‘ism".
In their mountainous corner of Syria, the ‘Alawī claim to represent the furthest extension of Twelver Shi'ism.
- Fisk, Robert. "This election will change the world. But not in the way the Americans imagined". The Independent UK. Archived from the original on 6 May 2006. Retrieved 21 October 2006.
But outside Iraq, Arab leaders are talking of a Shia "Crescent" that will run from Iran through Iraq to Lebanon via Syria, whose Alawi leadership forms a branch of Shia Islam.
- The Plain of Saints and Prophets: The Nusayri-Alawi Community of Cilicia and its sacred places, by Gisela Procházka-Eisl, Verlag, 2010, page 81
- Bar, Shmuel (2006). "Bashar’s Syria: The Regime and its Strategic Worldview". IPS. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- Moosa, Matti (1987). Extremist Shi'ites: The Ghulat Sects. p. 276. ISBN 978-0815624110.
- Moosa, Matti (1987). Extremist Shi'ites: The Ghulat Sects. p. 277. ISBN 978-0815624110.
- "Secretive sect of the rulers of Syria". The Telegraph. 5 August 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Pipes, Daniel (1992). Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition. p. 165. ISBN 978-0195060225.
- Batatu, p. 377.
- Bengio, Offra (ed.) (1998). Minorities and the State in the Arab World. p. 135. ISBN 978-1555876470.
- Anthony H. Cordesman (2002). Peace and War: The Arab-Israeli Military Balance Enters the 21st Century. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 337. ISBN 978-0-275-96939-4. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- Tejel, Jordi (2008). Syria's Kurds: History, Politics and Society. p. 58. ISBN 978-0415424400.