The Syrian government has proclaimed a two-day holiday because of the severe fuel shortages.
Over the past ten years, Syria’s southern province of Sweida has established itself as an exception. Its Druze majority residents have even on occasion organized ferocious protests against the Damascus government without suffering severe repercussions, despite being largely spared from fighting.
Syrians of Sweida felt that the most recent protests against the rapidly deteriorating economic situation were “unprecedented” despite the fact that fire tore through the walls of its governorate building on al-Mashnaqa (Gallows) sq. on Sunday and news of a protester and a policeman’s deaths broke.
Sweida is governed semi-autonomously, and the majority of its security is provided by Druze militiamen known as Rijal al-Karameh (men of dignity).
With the Syrian government, the province still has a tense and largely transactional relationship. Conflicts and standoffs frequently occur. But as austerity measures were announced across the nation, the most recent incident erupted unexpectedly.
The entire country of Syria has gradually come to a standstill due to low fuel supplies and skyrocketing prices, with the resulting drop in services serving as a catalyst for protests. The beginning may only be now.
Demonstrators in Sweida surrounded the city’s government building before entering, tearing down images of President Bashar al-Assad, while the rest of Syria looked on and chanted anti-government chants.
The perpetrators, according to the Syrian interior ministry, were “a group of outlaws, some of them carrying individual weapons, blocking the road next to the al-Mashnaqa roundabout with burning tires before firing shots indiscriminately.”
The ministry continued, “They forced their way into the building, destroyed the office furniture, stole from its contents, including official documents, and set the building on fire.
Accounts, however, appear to vary as Rayyan Maarouf of the opposition website Sweida24 told reporters: “The protests were concentrated close to the governorate building. Between the protesters and the security forces, the situation was very tense. In response to the security forces’ provocations, the demonstrators stormed the structure. It happened on its own. There was one protester killed and 18 injured. A police officer also died. “.
This new wave of protests, according to Maarouf, was caused by numerous factors. It’s unprecedented what the city is seeing. Living standards have completely collapsed, and the economy is in a terrible state. ”
Damascus is held accountable by him. We blame the Syrian state’s disregard for its obligations for this. It failed to provide services to its citizens, he claimed.
“It could not make it so that people could have heating, electricity, or water. It is a crippled nation. In Sweida, there is no fuel and only one hour of electricity per day. “.
Responses have been conflicted. In a Facebook post, pro-government journalist Haidar Mustapha accused the demonstrators of inciting violence: “If a protest is expressed in the form of targeting government sites, such as the governorate building or the police station, and this is done by burning and crushing in a barbaric and uncivilized manner, then how can it be right?”
Although the Druze make up a small minority in Syria (about 3% of the population before the war), they play a crucial role in the country’s politics and society.