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Opinion: Don't Abandon As-Suwayda

Updated: May 23

Editor’s Note: This is an opinion piece submitted to us from a Syrian activist currently living in Europe. The views expressed in this article are the activist’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hurriya. Some readers may strongly disagree with the activist’s views and we welcome them to email us at to pitch their own opinion piece explaining their disagreement in detail.

What is Suwayda‘s political movement to the Syrian revolution of 2011? 

The latest chapter? Or a new iteration? And what is the earlier revolution to the movement in Suwayda? An inspiration? A precursor to the current conditions Syria finds itself in? Or a precautionary tale to be learned from? 

In all honesty, all these questions are important, but almost impossible to answer. Nevertheless, one could confer through the actions of the demonstrators the deep connection of the two. 

Almost ten months ago began what would become an almost weekly tradition in the southernmost province of Syria, demonstrations and sit-ins with slogans against the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad. And where the first few protests were too reluctant perhaps to raise the old independence days flag next that of the Druze faith. The weeks of growth in the number of participants brought courage to activists on the ground–courage to raise that three-starred flag, courage to declare that this political movement is connected to that of 2011.

But how was the reaction of the larger Syria diaspora towards this movement? 

Activist groups in Northwest Syria, which are currently outside the control of the Assad Government and its allies, have sent messages, held up signs and chanted slogans in solidarity with Suwayda and professing support to the demonstrators. But such actions have been absent from the larger Syrian diaspora, particularly the Syrian diaspora in Europe which retains an ability to take political actions unlike Syrians in the surrounding countries. 

One would have to ask. Is Suwayda being ignored intentionally due to political or identitarian reasons? Or has the Syrian diaspora given up on politics all-together with the exception of a few? And even then, where are these yet to be seen save for a few on the streets in Europe and later Idlib? 

And do the people of Suwayda feel forgotten or abandoned? Do they look unto the Syrians in Europe and ask, where are our fellow countrymen? We asked two activists who are on the ground right now, and who have been engaged in this movement since the beginning. 

Mansour Khaz’al said that he does not see any support currently from the Syrian Diaspora, but also clarified that the only aid they are requesting is a more robust media and outreach work to further highlight the demonstrations and the current events in Suwayda. 

We also asked how and if he sees the current protests and activism being disconnected from the traditional Syrian Opposition, particularly of the last decade, and in such case, would he view it in a positive or negative light? To which he added that the current movement in Suwayda has nothing to do with the traditional Syrian Opposition, which is very good. The National Coalition, The Coordination Committees union and the National Council are expired bodies, and they only represent their members, added to their major failures. 

Thus, the movement in Suwayda is dictating its own unique revolutionary path which is only similar to the start of the Syrian uprising in 2011 before many mantles from the Muslim Brotherhood and others were donned unto it. And the movement is purely a Syrian national one with no loyalty but to the people. 

Another organizer and activist, Ra’ed Al-Shoufi, was asked the same question. He reiterated that the support from the Syrian Diaspora is not enough, especially those in Europe who can move and act more freely to bring the voices of Syrians to Europe’s Parliaments–media support from either the diaspora or foreign outlets has also been lacking.

Al-Shoufi emphasized that Syrians should be working to push western governments into investing more in the implementation of UNSC 2254 and to establish contact with the leading personalities in the movement in Suwayda. Sheikh Hikmat al-Hijri, one of the spiritual pillars of Syria’s Druze community, is a particularly important figure in this situation. 

Like Mansour, Ra’ed sees the current movement as politically disconnected from the traditional opposition political bodies, yet he claims that this separation came not from the activists of Suwayda but from the National Coalition. They have not even issued a strong statement of standing with the people, nor even a lackluster show of solidarity was seen from it. 

Ra’ed also believes the uprising in Suwayda has a different path than that of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been the one of the dominant political factions among the traditional Syrian opposition groups. In more recent weeks, demonstrators in Northwest Syria have also sent messages of solidarity and support to the people of Suwayda during demonstrations against HTS, the ruling faction in Idlib. But the situation in the province is far from ideal for a civil movement of solidarity. 

The regime meanwhile has amassed some forces and threaten to storm the province militarily, but that seems unlikely without the support of the Russians and Iranians. The former are not enthusiastic about starting a new campaign in Syria while still committed to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile the Iranians are now under enormous pressure in Syria due to Israeli airstrikes and have been forced to limit their operations in Syria after the bombing of their IRGC-controlled embassy annex in Damascus. 

The most recent escalation came with the abduction of a Syrian army officer to exchange for a student who hails from Suwayda. The latter was arrested in Lattakia where he studied on the charges of insulting the nation for posting on facebook negatively about the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. The officer was exchanged for the freedom of the student, who has since been returned safely to his parents. 

It is left to be seen where the current events in Suwayda would lead, and what they would signify to the future of not only this province and the Druze community, but also for Syria and the Syrian people as a whole. And more Importantly, how the Syrian Diaspora would react–if at all–to any significant changes in the reality on the ground in Syria.


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