Tuesday 27 March 2012

March, an ill-starred month for Druze leaders

Clockwise from top: Sultan Pasha al-Atrash, Kamal Jumblatt and Sheikh Ahmad Salman al-Hajri

Lebanon’s foremost Druze leader Walid Jumblatt restated today his call on residents of the Syrian Druze stronghold of Jabal al-Arab, also known as Jabal al-Druze, to join the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
His appeal came in a cable to Syrian activist Muntaha al-Atrash on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of her father, Sultan Pasha al-Atrash.
Jumblatt wrote Atrash in the cable posted on the website of his Progressive Socialist Party, “On the occasion of the anniversary of the death of Sultan Pasha al-Atrash, which coincides with the martyrdom of Kamal Jumblatt… we renew the call to our Jabal al-Arab brethren to enlist in the revolution in keeping with their struggle and patriotism history…”
March seems an ill-starred month for Druze leaders.
Sultan Pasha al-Atrash was 91 when he passed away on March 26, 1982.
Walid’s father, Kamal Jumblatt, was shot dead in his car on March 16, 1977, as it approached a Syrian military checkpoint in Lebanon’s Chouf district.
And the highest spiritual leader of Syria’s 700,000-strong Druze community, Sheikh al-‘Aql Ahmad Salman al-Hajri, was killed on Sunday, March 25, in a car accident which Syrian activists say was staged by the regime.
In today's Kuwaiti daily al-Watan, columnist Fuad al-Hashem says a Syrian “military vehicle” rammed Hajri’s car and killed him after he “refused on three occasions to appear on state TV to endorse Assad.”
Also today, Yacoub Kara, a Druze legislator in Israel’s Knesset, is quoted as saying Hajri’s death was staged in an “accident” that is archetypal for eliminating regime opponents in Syria.