Sun 22 Jul 2018

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Ghouta’s Splinters Hit Southern Syria and Rumors Control Daraa’s Scene

Opposition fighters on Daraa's Streets – June. 2017 (Nabaa Agency)

Opposition fighters on Daraa's Streets – June. 2017 (Nabaa Agency)

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The situation in Eastern Ghouta threw its shadows on Daraa governorate, considered the first concerned entity in the inflamed area’s confusion, for it is the next destination for Assad’s forces and alley militias’, as well as the negotiations that will ensue from their progress.

Since the launch of the attack on Ghouta, on the 19th of last March, the factions in Daraa entered a state of military alert; they confirmed readiness and, through their leaders, threatened to attack Assad’s forces’ positions to support Ghouta.

The promised attacks have not yet been implemented and the speed with which the on-ground happenings progressed was sudden and shook the entire scene. Due to this suddenness, the state of alert transformed into a civil action that took different directions; some people demanded negotiations, others have actually negotiated while others requested an immediate military movement and others objected to military-shaped steps.

 

 “Reconciliations Godfathers” to the Forefront

In sync with the departure of families and fighters from Ghouta, the towns of Daraa witnessed a wide and an unprecedented activity on the part of those who came to be called “reconciliations’ godfathers”, whose task focuses on paving the way for reconciliation agreements with Assad’s forces on the pretext of protecting their towns from the scorched earth policy and enforced displacement.

Some of these attempted protection procedures managed to see the light, which motivated some of the civil entities in the city of al-Harra in the northwest rural part of Daraa to form a delegation, in which none of the military factions participated. The delegation met with Assad’s forces’ representatives in the governorate of As-Suwayda, according to information that Enab Baladi received from an informed source.

The sources, who wishes to be anonymous, said that Russian threats transcended the language of reassurance and the dialogue which the Russian Officer initiated was limited to constant threats with a reference to Eastern Ghouta’s scenario and a demand to speed up the reconciliations before resorting to the military option.

Assad’s forces and their Russian ally stipulated that the al-Harra city’s factions start with surrendering all their weapons; they demanded the return of the dissidents and the obligatory recruitment escapees, in addition to admitting Assad’s forces into the city.

The source added that the only substitute for the city’s factions’ inclusion in Assad’s forces is the formation of a single armed body in the city, to work under the National Defense, the leaders of which are people from the city, who would get monetary and military funding from Assad’s forces.

The negotiations, which to the moment have not reached a point of agreement, promise to restore the basic services, including water, electricity and municipalities, to the city after the application of the “reconciliation agreement.”

Steering the file of al-Harra city divided its people, the first part of whom succumbed and the other part objected to the happenings. The chasm was made wider by the statement of Bashar Jaafari, current Permanent Representative of Syria to UN, who said that “a play is being prepared by the opposition to use chemical weapons in Tal al-Harra in Daraa,” which enhanced the state of confusion and clamor.

Driven by the situation, the al-Harra City’s Military Council boycotted the negotiations that addressed the city’s affairs. In a statement, the council declared “the international community’s responsibilities towards the Syrian people and the threats of using internationally banned weapons which have been directed at the secure civilians.”

The council confirmed that these allegations are part of Assad’s forces attempts to create a pretext to regain control over the strategic Tal al-Harra; it also promised to defend it.

 

Individual Steps are Building a Future

The city of al-Harra was not the only area to witness the “reconciliations’ godfathers’” undertakings, for other towns seem to be witnessing a similar activity; however, “it is still secretive, fearing the revengeful response on the part of the military factions,” according to Abu Mohammad al-Jebawi, who is following a mimic of the al-Harra’s city’s meeting, which has been run by personalities from the city of Jasem.

In his interview with Enab Baladi, al-Jebawi confirmed the real and the current effect of these meetings, which can only be viewed as individual steps, upon which a future might be built.

He also pointed out that the military faction’s decision, at the moment, is to fight in case they are attacked.

“Ghouta’s hasty crush down reflected negatively on Daraa governorate, both militarily and psychologically speaking,” he said, pointing out that the popular incubator of Ghouta’s factions is an example that represent the incubator in different areas in Daraa governorate.

Ghouta’s strategic importance left aside, losing it in one month only after the beginning of the battles, the departure of thousands of people on board of buses and the entire destruction that marked the cities’ photos was a shocking spectacle for Daraa’s people, who panicked over the similar fate that might befall them.

Al-Jebawi called on military leaders, prestigious figures and religious personalities “to launch reassurance campaigns to raise the people’s spirit and to stop the flood of rumors and accusations of betrayal, as well as to prove the military factions’ ability to undertake any anticipated battle.”

 

Dar al-Adel Court Threatens

For its part and as answer to the “reconciliations’ godfathers’” activities, Dar al-Adel Court in Horan issued a warrant against a man, called Jehad Nemaa, who functions as the Chief of el-Karak town in the eastern countryside of Daraa.

It addressed all the “revolutionary factions” in the eastern area to bring him to the Court in a step that is considered the first of its kind at this level, for the town’s Chief is accused of being one of the prominent characters that communicate with Assad’s forces, who have led delegations from the town in former meetings which sought to neutralize the city from air raids.

The city of Inkhil also has a word in the happenings, as it witnessed demonstrations that demanded evicting “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham” from the city and avoiding indulging it in any form of military action. The towns of Busra al-Harir and Melihit al-Atash have, in the past week, witnessed waves of displacement on the part of the people who feared the military action that have not yet started. At the same time, the neighborhoods of Daraa al-Mahtta, which Assad’s forces control, are living a state of anticipation, questioning their own fate, will they be the opposition’s target or a starting point for Assad’s forces towards the opposition-held neighborhoods?

Facing a flood of rumors, threats, leaked information, it seems that the clamor of the expected battle in Daraa governorate has hit a high tune, while a single bullet has not yet been shot.

 

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