Anti-Syrian regime protests rock Suweida amid growing hunger

Anti-Syrian regime protests rock Suweida amid growing hunger
The Druze-dominated region of Suweida did not oppose the regime during the revolution and the decade-long war, but poverty and economic despair are now pushing many to take to the streets.
2 min read
07 February, 2022
Protests against the Assad regime rocked the province of As-Suweida, long considered a support base for the regime [LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty]

Large-scale demonstrations erupted in the southern Syrian city of Suweida on Thursday and continued until Sunday, with more protests called for on Monday.

Protesters blocked several roads, burned tyres and chanted slogans calling for the fall of Bashar Al-Assad.

The demonstrations were sparked by the Syrian government's decision to cancel half a million rationing cards, which are given to vulnerable citizens to help them buy staple foods and fuel at a subsidised rate.

"We want a decent life," Bassam, a protestor who requested anonymity, told The New Arab's Arabic-language site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

"They have not taken any decision in the interest of the people. All the decisions they took impoverished us."

Images of the protests in Suweida circulated widely on Twitter over the weekend.

"Our children died from hunger and from cold," one protestor screamed in a video shared by local monitor Suwayda24.

Druze-dominated Suweida has largely stayed out of the Syrian civil war, preferring to maintain its own security than align with either the opposition or the Assad regime. 

Sporadic demonstrations took place in the province in the summer of 2020, signalling a growing resentment against the Syrian regime largely driven by the collapse of the economy. 

Syria remains mostly isolated from the outside world due to US-imposed sanctions. Its currency has plummeted since the start of the war and shortages of staple goods like fuel and flour are a constant. 

"We stood by the state and its institutions for the past ten years, but we are against these policies that aim to impoverish us and make us leave the country," Ammar Barjas, another protestor, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. "My salary was worth $500 in  2010, today it has dropped to $27."

Many have also blamed state corruption and the regime's huge military expenditure for the hardships.

The Syrian war, sparked by the brutal repression of anti-regime protests in 2011, has killed more than 500,000 people and displaced millions.

One third of Syria's pre-war population has left the country and 90 percent of Syrians now live below the poverty line according to the UN.