Unrest in Syria’s southern Druze city of As-Suwayda: Implications for change and regional dynamics

T. Belman.  I posted the map so that you could see the proximity of the Druze City of As Suwayda to Jordan. As this city gains its independence, it will protect the northern Jordanian border. The same for Nawa to the north of it.

The second article at the bottom mentions Daara as part of the uprising. Perhaps the uprising will go further north to Quinetra thereby protecting Israel’s border. I believe this area is populated by the Druze who are friendly to Israel.

The Jordan Option may be waiting on this development.

by Hadeel Oueis, ALL ARAB NEWS | August 31, 2023

As the Syrian conflict enters a new phase, recent events in the southern Druze city of As-Suwayda have reignited the attention of both the Syrian opposition and international observers. Once frustrated by the slow pace of change in Syria, opposition groups are now closely monitoring the unfolding protests in As-Suwayda. The city, still under the control of the Assad regime, has become a focal point of calls for change amid a challenging backdrop of economic deterioration and shifting regional dynamics.

Resonating Echoes of 2011

The echoes of the protests that shook Syria in 2011 have returned, this time resonating within the streets of As-Suwayda. The protesters’ demands, anchored by a plea for the departure of its President Bashar al-Assad, reverberate against the backdrop of an increasingly deteriorating economic situation. Yet, skepticism remains about whether the momentum generated in As-Suwayda can transcend the city’s borders and drive change at a national level.

Assad’s Calculated Approach

Since the emergence of the 2011 uprising, Syrian President Assad has exhibited a calculated approach toward minority-majority dynamics within the republic. By avoiding violent clashes with groups like the Druze and Kurds, Assad has sought to depict the opposition movement in large cities, mostly inhabited by Sunni Muslims, as dominated by jihadists, with minorities as his allies against such extremism. This strategy is evident in his handling of As-Suwayda’s protests, marked by restraint compared to the forceful response to Sunni-majority cities like Aleppo and Homs.

Parallel with the Kurdish Experience

Assad’s approach to As-Suwayda is similar to his approach to the Kurds in 2012. In the face of the Kurdish demonstrations a decade ago, Assad avoided direct military confrontation, which gave the Kurds a margin of freedom to develop their own governing system and eventually led to the creation of the autonomous government in northeastern Syria. As the protests in As-Suwayda intensify, Kurds in the region have expressed their strong support for As-Suwayda, hoping that another autonomous administration will emerge, this time in south Syria, to integrate the concept of strong local governments into the Syrian system.

Potential Benefits and Geopolitical Considerations

The prospects of As-Suwayda gaining autonomy and ousting Assad and Iran forces from the area hold various implications. Chief among them is the potential disruption of drug smuggling activities along Syria’s southern borders, in which the Assad regime has been implicated. A successful transition to a more secure and economically stable autonomous administration in As-Suwayda could also inspire the involvement of international actors, particularly the United States, to foster stability and prevent security vacuums.

It is time for the Syrians, the regime, and the international community to recognize the transformed dynamics of a post-2011 Syria. Reverting to the Syria of yesteryear is no longer feasible, as the people’s resilience and the passage of time have created an environment unwilling to regress. The impending economic crisis, exacerbated by President Assad’s recent admission in his interview with Sky News Arabia of limited Arab economic assistance, further underscores the urgent need for substantial political changes to facilitate recovery.

Syrians in every city will eventually oppose the current status quo due to the absence of any imminent political solution and the prolonged deterioration of the Syrian economy. The United States must stop neglecting the Syrian crisis, as recent events indicate that Assad’s partial military victory does not signal the conclusion of the conflict. Washington should play a role in assisting the Syrians in constructing a just political system before more turmoil leads to a resurgence of ISIS or more dominance for Iran-affiliated militants who are always eager to fill the vacuum. American decision-makers should learn from their poor handling of the 2011 Syrian insurrection in order to spare Syrian lives and the region from needless bloodshed.


Kurds Back Protests in Syria’s Sweida, Daraa
Asharq Al Awsat  Aug 26,2023

The Kurdish National Council (KNC) and the Syrian Democratic Council (the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)) have declared their full support for the protesters in various cities and provinces of Syria, expressing solidarity with the protests organized by the residents of Sweida and Daraa provinces in the southern part of the country.

These stances from the two poles of the political movement in northeastern Syria come as these protests enter their second week.

The city of Raqqa in the northern part of the country, along with several towns in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor and the city of Qamishli in Hasakah province in the far northeast of Syria, have witnessed supportive gatherings and condemning demonstrations against the government’s decision to lift subsidies on fuel and oil derivatives.

This decision has led to a sharp decline in the Syrian pound against foreign currencies, exacerbating the economic and living conditions.

The KNC, a broad political alliance of opposition Kurdish parties and forces, expressed its solidarity “with the Syrian people and its support for the demands of the residents of Sweida and Daraa for freedom, dignity, and decent human life.”

In a statement released on Friday, the council called upon the United Nations, the Arab League, and the international community to compel the Syrian government to pursue a “political resolution” that would alleviate the Syrians’ sufferings and tragedies and achieve security and stability.

Faisal Youssef, a member of the KNC’s presidential body, affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the KNC stands in solidarity with the uprising for the right to live with freedom and dignity in Sweida, as well as in various afflicted parts of Syria.

“Slogans raised by the protesters affirm that what is happening is an expression of the collective will of the Syrian people, encompassing all its components and sects,” said Youssef.

He emphasized the “urgent need to bring about radical change, end tyranny, implement UN Resolution 2254, and build a democratic and pluralistic Syria for all Syrians.”

September 1, 2023 | Comments »

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