Syria’s capital Damascus and southernmost province of Suweida are holding indirect negotiations after popular protests that swept the latter since last Thursday coming to a stop. Demonstrations witnessed the participation of clerics, civilians, and members of opposition factions.
“Organizers of popular movements in Suweida suspended demonstrations after holding a massive protest in the provincial city, al-Suweida, on Friday,” As Suwayda 24 Network Director Rayan Maarouf told Asharq al-Awsat.
According to Maarouf, the halt in demonstrations comes to leave an opportunity for negotiations and interactions with Damascus regarding protesters’ demands.
Maarouf declined to speak of direct negotiations yet but noted that indirect negotiations are underway. He said that protest organizers, activists, and local leaderships in al-Suweida were preparing a document of demands to present to the government in Damascus.
The paper will include local demands and reassert popular discontent against deteriorating living and economic conditions.
Maarouf revealed Damascus had made several contacts with Suweida to assure calm and relay the message that economic strains are nationwide.
The government blames conditions like war, sanctions, and having Syria’s oil resources away from the control of the national treasury and Damascus for exacerbated economic conditions suffered by Syrians.
Maarouf explained that since the first day of the protests in Suweida, the government did not provide any service enhancements, instead it continued to make pledges for improvement.
Moreover, the government sent security reinforcements to public security facilities and government buildings in the provincial city. Nevertheless, these reinforcements did not interact with the protests.
In early February 2022, a new wave of protests began in different parts of As Suweida, expressing anger and discontent with the Syrian regime, after the latter removed subsidies for staple items for hundreds of thousands of families. According to the recent decision, the affected people have become obligated to obtain food and catering supplies at the market price.
Later on February 6th, the protests expanded and evolved from demonstrations to cutting off the main and secondary roads, including those that connect the governorate center with the capital, Damascus.
This article was 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.