Syria's Druzes continue to defy Damascus
As the widespread protests in Syria's Suweida province continue to echo with demands for change, there is a conspicuous and contrasting response from the international community and the Syrian government, the Asharq Al-Awsat reports. While US and European diplomats are closely engaging with the movement, official silence and indifference characterize Damascus's stance.
In an interview with China's CCTV, President Bashar al-Assad avoided the unrest and reaffirmed the Syrian people's support for his regime, seemingly disregarding the tumultuous waves of dissent rising in the southern province.
Amid this, the Druze spiritual leader in Sweida, Sheikh Hikmat al-Hajri, has become a significant figure, amplifying the voices of the protestors on the international stage. A recent telephone conversation with the UK envoy to Syria, Ann Snow, underscored international attention to the ongoing peaceful demonstrations. Snow expressed her country's commitment to implementing UN resolution 2254, which calls for a ceasefire and political settlement in Syria.
This international outreach has not gone unnoticed. Sources speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat raised concerns that such engagements while providing a platform for the protestors, are viewed with suspicion by the Assad regime. The regime's intelligence machinery has been actively undermining al-Hajri's authority, employing tactics to tarnish his image and diminish his stature.
The resilience of the protesters, a unity forged from various secular and leftist groups, has made the regime's attempts to quell the movement increasingly challenging. Yet, an official response or recognition of the protests from Damascus remains conspicuously absent.
While the regime seeks internal means to destabilize the protests, avoiding overt force, western diplomats amplify their support. Al-Hajri's conversation with Snow followed another significant call from US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Ethan Goldrich. He echoed sentiments of support for the "freedom of expression" for Syrians and underscored the necessity of a political solution in alignment with resolution 2254.
The unfolding scenario in Sweida reflects the broader Syrian conundrum - a populace seeking change, a regime anchored in its stance, and an international community caught between diplomatic engagements and on-ground realities. As the protests mark over 40 days of peaceful demonstration, the silence from Damascus is as telling as the international conversations echoing in the halls of Sweida. The unfolding dynamics are not just a reflection of the immediate unrest but are indicative of the broader, complex Syrian narrative intertwined with international politics and aspirations for change.