Nowadays one can find many newspaper articles that claim that Assad is playing the ethnic card. Others think that Syria's ethnic polarization is no one's fault but the inevitable consequence of the circumstances. Unfortunately I have yet to see the first article that blames the rebels. Yet that seems to me the most logical explanation.
The uprising in Syria is at its core an uprising by fundamentalist Sunni's connected with the local Muslim Brotherhood. As they form only a small fraction of the Syrian population (maybe 10-15%) they have tried to broaden their base. One way to do that was the "democratization" card. But the Westernized liberals are an even smaller group and the credibility of the fundamentalists as democrats is not that great. So they took the obvious step to try to reformulate the situation as a conflict between Sunni and Alawites.
Before the conflict started Assad was quite popular among Sunni's too. So it was not even in Assad's interest to polarize. On the other hand the efforts by the insurgents to polarize are well known. I have mentioned in a prior post how television preachers from Saudi Arabia foment hatred against Alawites.
As we could see in Aleppo even now the FSA has far from succeeded in its hate mongering: there are still lots of Sunni who when are not enthusiastic about the FSA and aren't bothered about living with Assad as president.
Of course there was some discrimination and there were some economic problems. But which country is without problems and without faulty politicians? But when FSA fighters now describe those as so serious that they justify armed struggle they are rewriting history.