Lebanese Druse lawmakers split on support for Assad

Jumblatt calls for arming Syrian rebels; Arslan says Jumblatt's opinions don't reflect Lebanon's Druse.

Lebanon's Druse leader Walid Jumblatt 311 R (photo credit: Mohamed Azakir / Reuters)
Lebanon's Druse leader Walid Jumblatt 311 R
(photo credit: Mohamed Azakir / Reuters)
Statements by Druse parliamentarians revealed a split in the minority group's leadership regarding its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and his ongoing crackdown of anti-regime protesters in Syria.
Druse leader and Progressive Socialist Party MP Walid Jumblatt called for "arming" the Syrian regime, and called Assad a megalomaniac in one of his harshest criticism of the Syrian regime yet.
Speaking with the French Le Monde newspaper, Jumblatt said the Syrian regime is promoting "coalitions comprised of minority communities," and said it was time for the Druse of Syria to decide whether they were for the Assad government or against it.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Druse and leader of the Lebanese Democratic Party Talal Arslan said that Jumblatt's comments do not reflect the opinion of the greater Druse community, according to Lebanese news outlet Now Lebanon.
“Jumblatt expresses his personal position and not that of the Druze sect,” Arslan told the Lebanese television station affiliated with Hezbollah.
Arslan said that while the Lebanese people are wary about the humanitarian situation in Syria, and look at the Syrian government with "hesitation," the situation on the ground in Syria is quite different.
Arslan, who has visited Syria since the uprising began last March, said the situation "is just a big and funded media war."
“I have roamed in Syria, and there is nothing happening there," he said, according to Now Lebanon.
Both the PSP and and LDP, the parties headed by Jumblatt and Arslan, are a part of Lebanon's ruling March 8 coalition. Hezbollah, a driving force in the March 8 alliance, has openly expressed support of the Assad regime, even as the bloody conflict has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and approaches the one-year mark.
Both the March 8 coalition and Druse lawmakers in Lebanon are generally supportive of Assad, who, like the Druse, is a member of a minority group in Syria.