Syrian Druze Won't Appeal for Israel's Help, Lebanese-Druze Leader Says

In wake of deadly Al-Qaida that killed 20 Druze villagers, Walid Jumblatt says both Israel and Assad take sectarian stance with aim of dividing Syria.

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Walid Jumblatt, the political leader of Lebanon's minority Druze sect, center background, stands with clerics shortly after a meeting of the Druze community's religious leadership in Beirut, Lebanon,
Walid Jumblatt, the political leader of Lebanon's minority Druze sect, center background, stands with clerics shortly after a meeting of the Druze community's religious leadership in Beirut, Lebanon, Credit: AP

The Lebanese-Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has said that the Druze in Syria don’t intend to appeal to Israel for shelter, after a deadly Al-Qaida raid there killed as many as 20 Druze villagers.

“We don’t need [Syrian president] Assad or Israel” he said at a press conference in Beirut. “Both of them take a sectarian stance with the aim of perpetuating sectarianism and dividing the country.”

Walid Jumblatt said the attack earlier this week on Qalb Lawzeh village in Syria's northwestern Idlib province was an "individual" incident. Syria's Al-Qaida branch, the Nusra Front, killed at least 20 Druze members there on Wednesday.

The Idlib killings were the deadliest since Syria's civil war started in March 2011 against the minority Druze sect, which has been split between supporters and opponents of President Bashar Assad — but has largely stayed out of the fighting.

Jumblatt, known as one of Assad’s greatest opponents, added that the future of Syria’s Druze community, which numbers half a million people, will be determined within a framework of a diplomatic solution which will guarantee the security of state institutions and the establishment of a transitional government in Syria. He added that the Druze community is part of the Syrian people and cannot be related to separately.

It should be noted that the Lebanese-Druze leader, along with other Lebanese leaders who belong to the March 14 coalition group, initially expressed his support for the Syrian opposition. With the weakening of the national opposition and the rise of the Nusra Front and ISIS (also known as ISIL or by its Arabic acronym Daesh) in Syria, these leaders now find themselves under attack. They are therefore urging a diplomatic solution.

Jumblatt’s words also do not accord with voices heard among Israel’s Druze community. These have asked that the border be opened to their kinsmen, and that Israel provide direct assistance to the community in Syria, in light of reports of threats made by the Nusra Front and ISIS against the Druze. In recent weeks meetings have taken place in some Druze communities in the Galilee, aimed at collecting donations for their brethren in Syria.

Two days ago it was reported that Israel would not use military force to intervene on behalf of the Druze community in Syria despite grave concerns for their fate. Israeli decision makers realize that using force would constitute a direct intervention in the Syrian civil war, a step Israel has taken great care to avoid taking for more than four years, ever since the war broke out.

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