“Advantages” for Draft Evaders Trigger Sweida’s People Anger and Sarcasm
The issue of the evasion of compulsory and reserve military service is yet suspended at the governorate of Sweida, with more than 40 thousand young men avoiding the draft, while one of the 4th Division’s officers pointed out that among the Sweida young men who are still in Syria ten thousand have evaded the compulsory service and a similar number have evaded the reserve service.
These statistics were mentioned in a meeting, organized by the “Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party” at the Sweida Cultural Center on October 18 in the presence of representatives of the party and the military committee assigned to settle the draft evasion matter.
The meeting was organized to inform the attendees about new directions to be issued under the Decree on Pardon No. 18, passed early this month, which cancels all former reserve calls, while new lists are to be issued with regard to age and specialization. As for those summoned for the compulsory military service, they have to join the army through registering their names at the departments of the party, military police and military system of justice to undertake the service for a duration equal to that spent by their peers until they are discharged.
A Special Offer for Sweida and Undeclared “Advantages”
A 4th Division military delegation of the people of Sweida, headed by the Brigadier General Basam al-Arbid, assigned by Maher al-Assad, has made an offer to the Sweida’s people, who have to join the army, in a meeting it held with the eastern rural Sweida’s people and renowned figures on October 13.
The delegation explained that the reserve service evaders and young men below 35 years old, who are supposed to be drafted, will serve in the lines of the “First Legion” at the southern area; it consists of four military divisions, the Third, the Fifth, the Seventh and the Ninth, spreading in Damascus, rural Damascus, Qunitera, Daraa and Sweida.
The delegation added that the rest of the people who must be drafted for the compulsory military services will receive advantages if they joined the army, just like they used to get prior to the conflict in Syria. However, he did not announce these advantages on the allegation that the rest of the governorates will object in case they felt that the Sweida people are advantaged at their disadvantage due to this “gift,” as he put it.
The Russians had previously met with “Akl Sheikhdom” and the “Rijal al-Karamah” (Men of Dignity) to discuss the status of the Sweida young people who have been avoiding the draft, offering them to undertake the service within the borders of the southern area, 180km, including Sweida, Daraa and part of rural Damascus. The offer suggested that the local armed groups join the “Fifth Legion” and the settlement factions, as a part of the Russian plan to remove the Iranian militias from southern Syria and to solve the draft avoiders’ problem, according to what the activist Qassem Azam has told Enab Baladi in a former interview.
What If the Offer Is Embraced?
One of the young men requested for military service, on the condition of anonymity for security reasons, told Enab Baladi that the offer is not new, for the regime has previously tried to attract recruits, who were supposed to serve within their regions. However, the offer has made victims of many young people who once joined the army, were sent to different hot zones and indulged in the war.
The young man added that one of his relatives immediately at finding a convenient opportunity bribed the officer in charge and got a leave, after which he refused to return, indicating the baseless fears, for all people know that to trust the regime is “madness,” even if they do not declare this in public. Accordingly, the regime would not find respondents to its offer, as he said.
In an opinion poll, conducted by the “suwayda24” network on its “Facebook” page, concerning the offer, the opinions were split, for 59% refused the offer and 41% considered it as a good one, which triggered the people’s anger and fear of falling into the trap that will lead the Sweida’s people to the war, after they have been resisting this in the past years.
Some of the people, strictly inclined to the local affairs, commented about the necessity for not leaving Sweida defenseless and exposed to new attacks and that the Syrian regime is confiscating the Sweida’s young people’s freedom at defending their families in case the area is attacked again.