How to Support the Druze Revolt in Syria

(Jerusalem Strategic Tribune) Ehud Yaari - On Aug. 20, a majority of the previously quiescent Druze minority in Syria moved to open revolt, chanting slogans to topple the government, demolishing statues of Bashar al-Assad, and tearing down his billboard portraits. At 3% of the pre-civil war Syrian population, the Druze are concentrated in Sweida province in the country's southwest. The Druze of Syria were traditionally loyal to the Syrian ruling Baath Party, fearing the fall of the Baathist regime meant facing a radical Islamist government. The disillusionment of the Druze with Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizbullah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In September, a spiritual head of the Druze in Syria, Sheikh Hikmat al-Hijri, proclaimed in a video a "jihad" against Iran's and Hizbullah's militias whom he defined as "occupiers." He also attacked the ruling Ba'ath party and denounced the killing of three demonstrators in front of the Baath offices in Sweida city. The Druze have been quietly seeking a corridor in order to relieve them from dependence on Damascus for food and fuel. The Jordanians could open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three km. from the Syrian-Jordanian border. The current foreign minister of Jordan is a member of the Druze community in that country. But King Abdullah II of Jordan is reluctant to intervene on his own in the internal struggle in Syria. Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states. The writer, a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is a veteran commentator for Israeli television.

2023-10-05 00:00:00

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