Amidst the ongoing protests in Suweida, the Syrian regime has refrained from employing violent measures, given the city’s unique status as a stronghold of the Druze minority. The regime’s avoidance of forceful suppression aligns with its portrayal of itself as a safeguard for minorities.
As the regime’s initial attempts to quell the protests proved unsuccessful, it began to focus on influencing the Druze religious leadership, notably by engaging Sheikh Yusuf Jarbou, a prominent Druze figure. This move sparked concern among the protestors due to Jarbou’s criticisms of some protest demands, including those calling for the regime’s overthrow. This seemed to suggest that the regime had achieved partial success in its strategy.
Despite a clear reaction from the Suweida populace during a recent protest, Sheikh Jarbou’s stance created confusion in the streets. However, local writer Nawras Aziz downplayed the regime’s potential to subdue the protests by relying on Sheikh Jarbou. Aziz emphasized that the regime chose Jarbou specifically for his reluctance to endorse the call for regime change, while supporting other demands and advocating for a border crossing with Jordan. Aziz also noted that Jarbou’s demands throughout the protests had been relatively moderate.
Aziz brought attention to information from a reliable Damascus source, suggesting that the regime promised a significant government role to Safwan Abu Saada, a move contingent on thwarting the Suweida movement. There’s speculation that Abu Saada could replace Hussein Arnous as head of the government, with the process commencing after a meeting between Abu Saada and Sheikh Jarbou, accompanied by a video clip of the latter urging adherence to “national constants, the army, and the president.”
This information coincides with circulating reports proposing the appointment of high-ranking positions to the Druze community as a resolution to the protests, potentially part of a larger cabinet reshuffle driven by the deepening economic crisis and deteriorating living conditions. Such a shift in leadership could potentially help redirect blame for unfavourable economic decisions from the current government, led by Hussein Arnous.