US Syria envoy calls Suweida leader in support of protests

US Syria envoy calls Suweida leader in support of protests
The call came after senior officials also called to express support with the ongoing protests in Suweida.
2 min read
27 September, 2023
The over month-long protests against the regime in Suweida are the longest the province has seen since the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011 [Getty]

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ethan Goldrich called on the spiritual leader of Suweida province to express support for month-long protests in the Druze-majority province.

The US embassy for Syria announced in a statement on Tuesday: "Goldrich spoke with Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Hekmat al-Hajari reiterating our support for Syrians’ freedom of expression, including peaceful protest in Suweida."

"Reaffirmed calls for a just and unified Syria and a political solution consonant with UNSCR 2254," the UN resolution which calls for a political transition in Syria.

Protests have been ongoing in Suweida since 15 August, when a 150 percent hike in the price of fuel and other goods brought protesters to the streets.

Demonstrators' demands quickly turned political, with Syrians there calling for the downfall of Bashar Al-Assad's regime and a political transition in line with UNSCR 2254.

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The EU has also expressed solidarity with Suweida's protesters, with the Head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the EU Parliament Catherine Langzeben, calling Sheikh Hikmat al-Hijri on Saturday.

Langzeben said that the EU supported demonstrators' demands for freedom and that the EU parliament would soon release a new strategy to help the Syrian people secure their rights.

For his part, al-Hijri said that the protesters in Suweida represented not only the people of the province but rather the voices of all Syrians.

Indirect regime pressure

The Syrian regime has largely taken an indirect approach to the protests in Suweida, careful not to upset the heavily armed Druze minority.

Besides shooting and injuring three protesters who approached the main Baath party building on 13 September, the regime has not responded with violence to the growing demonstrations.

In other parts of the country, the regime has used violence to suppress protests since 15 August, openly firing upon crowds in Daraa province and setting up roadblocks in Aleppo, northern Syria.

Activists have said that the regime has instead opted to try to foment internal division within the Suweida protest movement, using notable individuals close to the regime to pressure protest leaders.

Despite regime pressure, protesters came out in “unprecedented numbers” on Tuesday, local outlet Suwayda 24 reported.