At a time when US and European officials continue to closely monitor the popular protests in Syria’s province of Sweida, Damascus remains officially indifferent to them.
In an interview with China’s CCTV television, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad chose to reaffirm the Syrian people’s support for him.
Meanwhile, Druze spiritual leader in Sweida Sheikh Hikmat al-Hajri received a telephone call from the UK envoy to Syria, Ann Snow, to declare her country’s commitment to implementing UN resolution 2254.
Snow and al-Hajri engaged in a lengthy discussion that revolved around the peaceful protests that have been taking place in Sweida for over 40 days.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, sources who requested anonymity, expressed concern over Snow’s communication with al-Hajri.
Theye explained that Snow speaking to al-Hajri complicates matters by representing international recognition for the latter’s leadership in Sweida.
Furthermore, they suggest that since the protests began, the regime has resorted to employing its “long-standing intelligence tools” to undermine al-Hajri’s authority.
This has been achieved by tarnishing his image, diminishing his stature, and casting doubt on his national stance through campaigns launched by pro-government activists on social media.
However, the popular support and unity of the protesters, including secular and leftist groups rallying around al-Hajri have made the situation increasingly challenging for Damascus. Despite this, Damascus continues to display indifference to the movement.
Sources also indicate that Damascus will spare no effort in attempting to dismantle the protests from within, as an alternative to using force, which still appears to be excluded from the list of options at this stage.
They also ruled out Damascus negotiating with demonstrators.
Snow’s communication with al-Hajri came two days after he had received a call from US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Ethan Goldrich, who underscored his support for “freedom of expression” for Syrians, including the peaceful protest in Sweida.
Goldrich called for a “fair and unified Syria” and a political solution in line with resolution 2254.