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Friday, June 19, 2015

Syria's Druze Are In Danger

Some basic facts concerning Syria:
  • Population of some 23 million.
  • More than 3 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.
  • Some 6.5 million persons are internally displaced in Syria as a result of the fighting.
Some basic facts concerning the Druze:
  • The Druze religion is an 11th Century offshoot of Shia Islam.
  • Some 700,000 Druze live mostly in the mountainous southwest section (the "Jebel al-Druze") of what used to be Syria.
  • 220,000 Druze live in Lebanon.
  • 140,000 Druze live in Israel, where they serve in the Israeli armed forces and where members of this sect have been elected to the Israeli parliament from various political parties.
Until recently, some 90 percent of the Druze living in the Golan Heights, taken from Syria by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, have continued to profess loyalty to the Assad regime, given their expectation that the Golan Heights would ultimately be returned to Syria. In addition, Assad is an Alawite, and the Alawis, comprising some 12 percent of Syria's population, are also an offshoot of Shi'ism. Or stated otherwise, both the Druze and the Alawites are considered heretics by some Muslims.

Recently, 20 Druze were shot to death by the Sunni al-Nusra front in Syria's Idlib province at a time when Assad's forces are forcing young Druze men to join them at gunpoint. As reported in a BBC article entitled "Syria's Druze under threat as conflict spreads" by Faisal Irshaid:

"For a long time, the majority of Syrian Druze remained loyal to President Bashar al-Assad - a member of the heterodox Shia Alawite sect - fearing that if he was overthrown, minorities would be targeted and communities destroyed by extremists among the country's Sunni majority.

. . . .

But with government forces suffering a string of defeats since December, signs of dissent have become more visible among Druze.

. . . .

The chief of staff of the Israeli military - in which hundreds of Druze serve, many of them in high-ranking positions - said it would act if needed to prevent a massacre in the Syrian Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had 'given instructions to do what is necessary', without elaborating.

In Lebanon, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt strongly condemned the shooting, but insisted it was an isolated incident.

Mr Jumblatt, a staunch opponent of President Assad, called on Syrian Druze to support the rebellion in their country, arguing that the real threat to them came from a government that killed dozens of people every day."

The pot continues to boil . . .

[For the latest concerning Syria's Druze, have a look at an article published today by DEBKAfile, "Syrian Druze gain non-belligerence commitment from rebels under joint US-Jordanian guarantee."]


  1. PM Netanyahu said the Golan Heights are no longer part of any new look at the Saudi peace plan.

    Perhaps the 20,000 Syrian Druze who live on the Golan Heights will ignore Lebanon's [chameleon]Jumblatt, and will decide to now accept Israeli citizenship.

    Time to restore Jabal Druze State 1921-1936?

    precedents in statehood do count


  2. Seems the Druze do not [yet] interest America's news organizations. The Washington Post has an article today, but in this account by Mr. Booth, now the Druze are designated as a religious sect that also includes elements from Hinduism and Buddhism, in addition to Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. So, WaPo just made the Druze more "heretical".

    The NYT, WSJ, and tv news have nothing today.
    Ironic that Al Jazeera America is covering the Druze in some depth, without labeling them as heretics.

    When will Mrs. Amal Clooney say something?

    fwiw, the NYT has a travel feature wherein Marianne Pearl rediscovers her Cuban roots...

    At this point in time, anything that Israel does to help the Druze in Syria will be misunderstood by western media.

    So sad, so far.