Druse ex-MK: Syrian brethren not abandoned by Assad

Majallie Whbee says many Druse have died fighting in regime army – from generals to privates.

By
January 18, 2016 03:37
2 minute read.
Members of the Druse community watch the fighting in the Druse village of Khadr in Syria

Members of the Druse community watch the fighting in the Druse village of Khadr in Syria as they stand on the Israeli side of the border fence between Syria and the Golan Heights. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Syrian Druse have tried to stay neutral since the uprising broke out in 2011 and life has largely continued normally in their communities, unlike for most others in the country, a top Israeli-Druse leader told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

Former deputy foreign minister Majallie Whbee – now a roving ambassador for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, a forum for the region’s parliamentarians to come together and achieve common objectives – said that many refugees from other ethnic communities in Syria have taken refuge in Druse areas.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Druse are generally not supporting opposition groups but are seeking to stay out of the conflict, something which has allowed restaurants and night clubs to continue to operate, he said.

There are economic difficulties in Druse areas, but in the southern Syrian city of Sweida there even were New Year’s celebrations, added Whbee.

The former MK disputed the assertion by Israeli-Druse activist Mendi Safadi in a Post article last week that Syrian Druse in the southern Jebl al-Druse region have lost faith in the ability of the Syrian army to protect them.

While Whbee confirms that Druse in the southern city of Sweida established their own security force to protect themselves from Islamist rebels, he estimates that more than half of Syrian Druse support the regime.

“Druse have lost many who fought as soldiers in the regime army – from generals to those with low ranks. Approximately 2,000 Druse soldiers have died since the Syrian conflict began,” said Whbee.



He also disagrees that his Syrian brethren stand between Islamic State and the Israeli border.

The regime is very weak in the southern Druse areas because it redeployed forces to other fronts, and for this reason there are several thousand Druse who are part of a local force defending their community, continued Whbee. And because of this and the war, there is also a lack of law enforcement and the Druse force is trying to act as the local police.

Asked about forces close to Israel’s Golan Heights, Whbee said that Islamic State is not near the border but that al-Qaida’s Nusra front and other rebel groups are present.

Israeli Druse are financially aiding their Syrian brethren, he added.

Regime-appointed Syrian- Druse religious leaders who have been backing President Bashar Assad’s rule have lost their legitimacy because they fully back the government, while independent religious leaders who have tried to keep the Druse from appearing to side with a party in the civil war have gained more of a following.

The intervention of Russia has relieved some of the threat from the Nusra Front and Islamic State on Druse communities, he asserted.

As for Hezbollah efforts to recruit Druse to their cause, Whbee said the Lebanese organization failed since Druse care about their own people and their mountainous base and not about fighting for others.

Related Content

S-300
July 16, 2018
Iranian general praises Gazan terror: Trump’s ‘threats don’t scare us’

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH