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Al-Liwaa party: Between Reality and Rumors

2023-12-12 09:01

Issam Khoury

#Sweida , #DruzeCommunity , #SyrianOpposition , #AlLiwaaParty , #SelfAdministration , #ArabNationalism , #YouthEngagement , #SocialAcceptance , #SyrianCivilWar , #PoliticalDynamics , #MiddleEastPolitics,

Al-Liwaa party: Between Reality and Rumors

"Analyzing Al-Liwaa Party in Syria: Limited Resources, Youth Engagement, and Struggle for Social Acceptance in Sweida."

A series of rumors have been circulating, originating from the Syrian regime and Iranian-backed websites such as Al Mayadeen and Ra'i Al Youm[1], claiming that the Al-Liwaa party[2] is engaged in communications with Israelis and receives funding from multiple Western intelligence agencies. In response, their secretary general, Malik Abu Al-Khair [3], took to social media to express his thoughts on the matter, stating that those who engage in such activities must possess the ability to manage armies and rise to the level of a head of state, rather than just being the leader of a nascent political party. He sarcastically expressed gratitude for the free publicity generated by these rumors [4].


The Syrian regime has consistently accused its opposition of being foreign agents, regardless of their level of influence. Our observation of the local party, Al-Liwaa, in the province of Sweida reveals that it operates with limited resources. During a visit to Sheikh Al-Aql Hakmat Al-Hijri's residence at the end of September 2023, several non-luxurious vehicles were seen, carrying representatives of this party. They aim to establish alternative institutions to the Syrian state. Within the party, there are multiple divided offices as follows:


  • Party Service Institutions: They are responsible for overseeing municipal affairs and administrative services.
  • Civil Affairs Office: It is responsible for monitoring population and records, as well as civil organizations.
  • Women's Office: It focuses on the development and monitoring of women's affairs.
  • Civil Defense Office: It is responsible for providing civil protection to those affected by disasters, fires, or even those affected by Syrian regime attacks if they decide to target Sweida.
  • Counter-Terrorism Force: It represents the military wing of the Al-Liwaa party.



This party was founded in 2021 and has proposed several key directions, including:


  • The need for self-administration to develop the Sweida region.
  • The need to commit to a counter-terrorism project.
  • The need to combat the spread and trafficking of drugs.
  • The need to secure civil peace in the Sweida region.



Naturally, this speech was appealing to a section of the youth opposed to the Syrian regime, as well as a wider range of religious Druze groups who view the Syrian civil war as an Alawite-Sunni conflict in which the Druze have no role. Therefore, it is necessary to disengage from the Syrian state, which has lost its ability to provide services to the people of the Sweida region.


When this party was founded, it attracted a section of the Druze youth, especially as it presented several projects that provided employment opportunities for young people, particularly what was called the Anti-Terrorism Force. However, the party's financial capabilities were not sufficient to manage the affairs of the Sweida Governorate, as indicated by its offices. The number of beneficiaries of this party is in the dozens, and some of them receive monthly salaries, but those salaries are not permanent, indicating that this party relies on financial grants for specific projects. Once those grants end, the payment of salaries to employees stops. According to the website "Sweida 24," quoting a defector from the Anti-Terrorism Force affiliated with the Al-Liwaa party in November 2023, the salaries of the fighters who joined the party ranged from 200,000 to 250,000 pounds, but they have not received their salaries for two months, which has led many of them to defect[5].


Additionally, the party does not possess political or negotiation channels that enable it to demand the release or negotiation for its members. After the arrest of eight members[6] affiliated with the party, their relatives announced in an official statement (Al-Liwaa party Party deceived our sons in exchange for money, exploiting their difficult living conditions)[7]. This indicates the absence of harmony between the party's leadership and its popular base, as well as the absence of party commitment, which is based on the party's ideological principles that may require sacrifice for party loyalty.


Despite these negative observations of the party, it has the vision to enhance self-sufficiency among the people of Sweida in managing their resources and transitioning towards a system similar to the self-administration system in northeastern Syria. However, this cannot succeed within a cohesive religiously ideological society like Sweida, except by embracing the projects of this party by the religious institution. Hence, the party has made multiple visits to Druze religious authorities to increase recognition and provide Druze youth capable of volunteering in the party.


The majority of the residents of Sweida are Arab nationalists, and they honor the history of the Druze leader "Sultan Pasha Al-Atrash," the leader of the Syrian revolution against the French. They are aware that despite its isolated geographical uniqueness, the Sweida region is unable to sustain an independent life. Therefore, they need Damascus, which is only 111.2 km away from them. A large portion of the Druze population is settled in Damascus, where there are ample job opportunities and a higher cultural, social, and economic life in Syria. Additionally, Sweida does not have its own university, so most university students are forced to pursue their education at the University of Damascus.


The spiritual leaders of the Druze community understand all of these matters, so they did not openly embrace the political party "Al-Lawaa" despite their respect for its leader. This allowed the party to operate freely in Sweida's areas, but it was unable to expand its popular base, especially after the wave of popular protests against the Syrian regime. During these protests, many political figures emerged who were capable of competing with and surpassing the young "Malik Abu Al-Khair." In Sweida's society, there is a higher level of respect and attention given to older age groups than to Malik Abu Al-Khair. This social perspective is common in Syria, but it is particularly prominent in socially closed communities such as the Druze community and Arab tribes.


Despite Malik Abu Al-Khair's good media capabilities due to his previous work at the Emirati channel "Alaan" and his establishment of the "Ana Insan" media organization, as well as his ability to travel across European Union countries due to his residency in France, in the eyes of Sweida's community, he is still young and needs broader acceptance from older age groups.


This reality has made Al-Lawaa party a small right-wing opposition party to the Syrian regime. While their opposition is good, they will not find broad social acceptance in Sweida's society. The community has raised many slogans rejecting the behavior of the self-administration areas in northeastern Syria. Activists in Sweida's squares see the unity of Syria as an essential condition for building a free Syria, free from the Syrian regime, which they perceive as being influenced by Iran and Hezbollah, whom they consider as malevolent forces threatening Syrian society.




[1] Al-Liwaa party, which is prominent in the events of Sweida, what is its relationship with the Israeli Mossad, American intelligence, and the SDF? / Opinion Today / By Nour Ali/ Sep 28, 2023

حزب اللواء السوري الذي يتصدّر أحداث السويداء.. ما علاقته بالموساد الإسرائيلي والاستخبارات الأمريكية و”قسد”؟ | رأي اليوم (raialyoum.com)


[2] Al-Liwaa party: The Syrian Brigade party


[3] https://www.facebook.com/malekabokheer


[4]  https://twitter.com/malekabokheer/status/1694037907579805937/photo/1


[5] Mass defections from the military wing of the Al-Liwaa party in Sweida/ shaamNov 2021
انشقاقات بالجملة عن الجناح العسكري لحزب اللواء السوري في السويداء | شبكة شام الإخبارية (shaam.org)


[6] The detainees are: Shadi Saleh Zain Al-Din, Raed Fawaz Al-Hamad, Kan'an Saqr Abu Saab, Asim Mushael Al-Sha'er, Anas Zaid Abu Saeed, Maher Saber Azam, Wissam Marwan Abdul Baqi, Ayham Yahya Al-Jaba'i.


[7] Families of the detainees: The Al-Liwaa party manipulated our sons, taking advantage of their difficult circumstances. Cairo/Sweida 24, October 1, 2023.


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