Middle east

Deraa and As-Suwayda tribes form a unified Council to address security challenges

Civil society communities seek to establish civic and political entities to unify their efforts in stabilizing the region, as the role of the relevant judiciary declines, and the law enforcement agencies relinquish their responsibilities, allowing tribal law to prevail.

Tribes in the governorates of Deraa and As-Suwayda have announced the formation of a unified council with the aim of “unifying the efforts of the tribes’ members in both governorates to ensure their security and stability.” This comes after the harassment and assaults they faced from various parties.

Civil communities in southern Syria are looking to form civic and political entities to unify their efforts given the current circumstances, in light of the significant challenges facing the tribal members in the south. This includes the spread of drug trade and smuggling into Jordan, for which they have been held responsible.

The residents of the Lijat towns in the governorates of Deraa and As-Suwayda have faced numerous harassments following allegations against the tribes of drug trafficking and smuggling to Jordan, following the killing of a person named Murei Al-Rumthani in a Jordanian airstrike on his home a while ago.

In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in tribal conflicts with retaliatory motives in southern Syria, as the role of the relevant judiciary declined, and law enforcement agencies relinquished their responsibilities, allowing tribal law to prevail in the region.

Tribal sources mentioned that the meeting was held at the house of Sheikh Talal Abu Suleiman in the village of Hamar in the middle of the Lijat region in the countryside of Deraa. It was attended by seventy individuals and prominent figures representing the majority of Bedouin tribes in southern Syria.

The attendees agreed to form a unified council comprising ten representatives and spokespeople who will be elected from the seventy individuals. The council’s declared goal is to unify the efforts of the tribes’ members in the two governorates, enhance communication among them, and resolve disputes. This council is the only one recognized in the governorates of Deraa and As-Suwayda, as confirmed by sources.

Sheikh Talal Abu Suleiman was quoted as saying that the council aims to “achieve unity among the Bedouin residents of Deraa and As-Suwayda, and enhance security and stability in both governorates.” He added that the council “does not endorse any actions from external sources that deviate from tribal, social customs, traditions, Sharia, and the law.”

In recent weeks, there have been random raids and arrests targeting residential gatherings of the tribes residing in the region between the governorates of Deraa and As-Suwayda, under the pretext of “pursuing wanted individuals.” Most of these tribes were displaced from their homes and areas in recent years.

Subsequently, the tribes held a meeting to unify their voice and seek solutions to “curb random and retaliatory encroachments against them in light of a systematic policy that clearly seeks to pin all security problems on the tribes alone in southern Syria,” according to the source.

The tribal meetings focused on the necessity of having representatives to convey their voices and demands to the concerned authorities and to the wider segments of civil society, rejecting the generalization of any residential gathering of the tribes by any party, whether security forces or factions acting on behalf of the state.

The Bedouin tribes’ members have suffered the consequences of displacement since the beginning of the Syrian war. Their homes in many places and towns were demolished, especially in the Lijat region, their central area, located 50 kilometers between the governorates of Deraa and As-Suwayda. Many of them settled in rugged areas between the towns of Dama, Al-Mseikah, Jdal, Soor, Aasm, and Al-Majdal, which are under the control of the Lebanese Hezbollah and its affiliated factions. As a result, many of them were forced to deal with the party as the dominant force in the region to preserve their lives. As a result, they were subsequently accused of drug and arms trafficking and participation in abduction activities.

In 2018, Syrian army forces, with the support of Russian aircraft, swept through the tribal areas in the countryside of Deraa and As-Suwayda, destroying several of their villages. In 2022, a gang affiliated with the military security of the government detained 20 citizens, most of whom were from the Bedouin tribes in the town of Atil in the north of As-Suwayda. This led to clashes that lasted for days between the Bedouin tribes and the other “Druze” component in the governorate, resulting in the death of several citizens from both sides, before the intervention of elders and religious figures to resolve the issue and release the detainees from both sides in the absence of any role for security agencies.

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