Israel's Cynical Help to Syria's Druze and Real
By Reme Sakr
June 21, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" -
The situation in Syria’s south seems to have taken a turn for the
worse in recent weeks, especially in the Sweida Mountain, home to
most of the region’s Druze people.
After al-Nusra Front — al-Qaida in Syria — seized
the 52nd Brigade base in Daraa, its attention was turned to the
Thaaleh military base in Sweida’s west where, for the past few days,
local villagers along with the National Defence Forces and the
Syrian Arab Army, have been deep in battle against the al-Qaida
The first such casualties in the city of Sweida
occurred this week when mortars landed on their houses, killing two.
The attack was an attempt by sleeper cells inside the province to
create a distraction for security forces.
Being under a semi siege, the Druze mountain is
facing its biggest threat since the beginning of the war. According
to local sources on the ground and social media sites reporting from
Sweida, a meeting has taken place between the General Secretary of
Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, and Lebanese Member of
Parliament Talal Arslan. In coordination with the Syrian government,
a decision was made to send weapons and reinforcements from Lebanon
to support Sweida’s defense.
Although no other media outlets have reported on
this, if it is true, Hezbollah getting involved in the defense of
Sweida is a highly significant move. It would be a direct message to
the Zionists over the border.
According to Reuters this week, the Israeli
President Reuven Rivlin expressed his concern to U.S. President
Barack Obama over the fate of Syria’s Druze, in the face of the
Islamist threat creeping into the Druze homeland, setting the scene
and giving a pretext for Israeli intervention in the Syrian south to
supposedly protect the Druze.
President Rivlin’s gesture was firmly rejected by
Sweida’s leaders, who accused Israel of playing its usual dirty
politics to serve its own interests in the region. Sheikh Yousef
Jarboue of Sweida in an interview with the Lebanese ‘Al Mayadeen’
responded by saying that if Israel cared about the Druze, then it
should stop using the occupied Syrian Golan Heights to provide
medical treatment to the al-Qaida groups, who are not only a threat
to the Druze but to all Syrian people.
Rivlin's statement was merely an attempt to depict
a lack of confidence in the Syrian army and to falsely present
Syria’s Druze as allies of the Zionist state who are open to foreign
intervention. Sheikh Jarboue reiterated that Sweida’s safety lies
with the Syrian government, and as a province of a united Syria.
Israel has tried to subdue the Druze in the
occupied Golan Heights with repeated offers of Israeli citizenship.
Just this year Israeli security forces arrested 48 year old Sedki
al-Maket, a Druze from the occupied Golan, for filming a meeting
between Israeli officials and Al Qaeda militants near the Syrian
Israel has every reason to portray the Syrian war
as a sectarian conflict and to sell the idea of partitioning Syria.
Having a Druze State, a Sunni state, and an Alawite state would then
give a Jewish state the legitimacy that it so desperately needs.
This is just how the Yazidis in Iraq, who have now
disappeared from international headlines, were used as the pretext
for the launch of the U.S.-led coalition’s useless bombing campaign
against the Islamic State group. Israel would like to paint the
Druze as helpless victims, in need of saving.
However, the situation on the ground tells
otherwise. The Druze are organizing. Close coordination between the
Syrian army and local defence groups indicate that the Syrian
government still occupies a strong support base in the Druze south.
The prospect of Sweida falling into the hands of
al-Qaida seems very slim for a number of reasons.
Firstly, as well as the Sweida National Defence
Forces and the Druze resistance group Jeish al Muwahideen, active
since the beginning of the war, a new battalion containing 33
different factions was launched last month. The Homeland Shield (Dere’a
al Watan) led by retired army General Nayef al-Aaqel is believed to
have mobilized and armed at least 100,000 Sweida civilians.
Secondly, there is absolutely no support base for
the terrorists in Sweida. The Druze are considered heretics by
radical Islam and the recent al-Nusra Front killings of Druze
villagers at Qalb Lawzeh were further proof of the impossibility of
them surviving under an extremist Sunni rule.
While terrorist groups in other parts of Syria may
have found support from a small minority of Al Qaeda sympathizers in
those areas, they can be sure that no jihadis will be welcomed in
Thirdly, no towns or villages have been evacuated
in Sweida. Leaders have stated that the locals themselves alongside
the Syrian Army will form the front lines of defense against Al
Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front from the west and the Islamic State group
from the east.
Sheikh Hussein Jarboue confirmed that there will
be no concessions or negotiations made with the militants attacking
the Druze homeland. This is contrary to the stance of Lebanese Druze
politician Walid Joumblatt, who called for the Syrians to desert
their army and agree to a settlement with al-Nusra Front.
Anyone following the conflict must understand that
the events currently unfolding in Sweida are not a threat to the
Druze only, but a threat to the whole of Syria. Just like the
attacks on Kobani and other places before, an attack on Sweida
threatens Syria’s unity and distinct pluralist fabric.
While there is a constant effort to report the
Syrian war in sectarian terms, the truth is that the extremist
terrorist groups are a threat not just to minorities or even just
Syria, but to the whole region.
Reme Sakr is a Syrian-Australian journalist
and political activist.