Ongoing popular protests continue to shape the landscape of Jabal al-Arab and Karama Square in the city of Suweiada. The people of this mountainous region have consistently asserted their affiliation with Syria. Many view their uprising as a part of the broader Syrian revolution that commenced in March 2011. However, when dissenting voices accused them of seeking to separate from Syria, they urged those voices to revisit history, reflecting on their past and how they rejected an independent state a hundred years ago.
The people of this region have a rich history intertwined with the French presence in Syria. In a remarkable act of self-determination, they voluntarily relinquished the independence granted to them by the Mandate government in May 1921. Notably, the Great Syrian Revolution, which reached its zenith in 1925, ignited from the heart of this mountainous terrain, led by Sultan Pasha al-Atrash.
Despite these historical underpinnings, it’s crucial to highlight key disparities between their revolution and those in the northern regions. Firstly, women’s participation is a striking divergence. In contrast to the north, where women’s involvement was often limited, in Suweida, women stood shoulder to shoulder with men, actively participating in demonstrations, chanting popular songs, engaging in dances, and offering hospitality to the demonstrators.
Furthermore, the commitment to maintaining peace sets Suweida apart. While some regions in Syria witnessed escalating violence, Suweida’s resistance remained notably peaceful.
Lastly, middle-class intellectuals have assumed a prominent role in leading the Suweida movement. This intellectual presence has led to the creation of thought-provoking banners reminiscent of the early days of the revolution. These banners call for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2254, the release of detained national figures like Abdel Aziz Al-Khair and Zaki Cordillo, and extend greetings to influential figures in Syrian public life.
Importantly, the leaders in Suweida, represented by figures such as Sheikh Hikmat Al-Hijri, epitomize popular, non-religious leadership. They echo the slogan prominently featured in the 1925 revolution’s statement, under the leadership of Sultan Pasha: “Religion is for God, and the homeland is for all.”
Despite the Assad regime’s brutal repression in various Syrian governorates, Suweida has remained relatively untouched. This may be attributed to historical factors and the absence of an armed resistance in the region. The regime has been unable to accuse the people of Suweida of “armed religious terrorism” or compel them to send their children to military service, given their strong argument against Syrians killing Syrians.
In conclusion, the Suweida movement stands out for its inclusive and peaceful nature, strong intellectual leadership, and commitment to a united homeland. This unique blend of characteristics has allowed it to maintain its resilience even in the face of adversity, setting it apart from other revolutionary movements in Syria.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.