After witnessing demonstrations that culminated in the burning of the provincial government building some months ago, the southern Syrian province of al-Suwayda' has seen a relatively uneasy calm. The primary original grievances about the bad economic and livelihood deterioration remain, with the government unable to offer any real remedies, even as there is increasing talk of normalisation of relations between Damascus and other regional players like Saudi Arabia.
The interviewee featured in this post is Aysar Morshed, from the al-Suwayda' province village of Kafr and leader of a group that was affiliated with Harakat Rijal al-Karama ("Men of Dignity Movement") that was founded in 2014 and reflects the largest 'third-way' faction in al-Suwayda'. Morshed and his group split from the movement at the beginning of this year. I interviewed Morshed about his own life before and since 2011, his work with Harakat Rijal al-Karama and his view of the current situation in al-Suwayda'.
While it may seem that this is merely another interview with a local leader of a small group in al-Suwayda', there are some wider insights to be drawn about the course of events in the province since 2011:
. Like Morshed, many in al-Suwayda' might have been opposed to the Syrian government prior to 2011 and might have had initial enthusiasm for the idea of a revolution in 2011-2013, but the territorial fragmentation of Syria and the increasingly Islamist and jihadist character of the insurgency (especially the rise of Jabhat al-Nusra) severely dampened any willingness to participate actively in protesting and armed action against the government. This may have prompted them to align with a 'third-way' movement as represented in Harakat Rijal al-Karama, which made protecting al-Suwayda' (Jabal al-Arab/Jabal al-Druze) its primary focus.
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