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As-Suwayda: Local and International Conflicting Agendas

Prepared By: Feras Fahham

 

As-Suwayda, Syria's southernmost Governorate, has posed a considerable challenge to the authority of the Syrian regime, as ethnic and political considerations impeded the implementation of the "military solution" and prevented the forceful extension of the Syrian regime’s authority, as happened in the rest of the governorates of Syria. Such considerations provided local actors with much freedom of maneuver, taking advantage of the positions of the active countries in the Syrian file.

The regime, until the present day, can only work on finding any security breach and trying to recruit more local collaborators to overcome obstacles that have prevented the full takeover of the Governorate.

This paper reviews the specificity of As-Suwayda Governorate, given the political, geographical and religious considerations, which made it a unique model that differs from the rest of Syrian governorates. In addition, this very paper identifies the most prominent local actors those who have leverage over political and military dynamics, as well as the expansion of the religious leader’s role, and the changes that occurred in their presence on the overall landscape in the Governorate of As-Suwayda.

Moreover, it also discusses the interests that drive international parties, especially Russia and Israel, to pay attention to As-Suwayda and seek to establish influence inside it, and this paper, in fact, highlights the mechanism of taking advantage of this file as leverage, with reference to the recent Russian growing influence in this geographical spot.

This study is presented for all who are interested in the As-Suwayda governorate file, whether they are researchers, politicians or international bodies, as it was completed in a detailed and extensive manner.

The present analytical study is based on interviews with political activists from As-Suwayda Governorate, and some people who are very close to religious leaders, were conducted between September 28 to October 4, 2021, in addition to information reports published by reliable institutions on the situation in As-Suwayda Governorate.

It concluded by building two scenarios for As-Suwayda case. The first of which is the one that is most likely, assuming that Moscow expands its influence in As-Suwayda, to become the one with the upper hand in it, if its understandings with Washington and Israel went well, and accordingly, Russia would work to rearrange the military scene according to its interests.

The other scenario expects the continuation of unrest as a result of international interventions, in the event that the active actors decide to continue to pressure Russia as a result of the failure to reach understandings with it.