News / Middle East

    Syrian Uprising Divides Syrians in Golan Heights

    Scott Bobb

    The confrontation is growing bloodier in Syria between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and supporters of a nine-month uprising against his government. The strife is also causing divisions among Syrians in the Golan Heights, which has been under Israeli control since the 1967 war.

    Majdal Shams is the main town of the occupied Golan Heights. Some residents are debating the situation in Syria, their home country.

    Shop owner Hussein Jamil says terrorists are behind the nine-month-old uprising and they will not succeed. “All the people of the Golan Heights are of the same opinion. We are supporting President Assad and we are thinking that what is going on is, it's a conspiracy," he said.

    Most of the 10,000 Syrians living in this area are Druze who traditionally have supported the 41-year-old regime of President Bashar al-Assad and his late father, Hafez al-Assad.

    But the rift in Syrian society is now causing differences here. Jamil's neighbor, Husam Ayyeb. “I believe that as president, [Assad] should not be in power more than five or ten years. The state does not belong to him so he cannot rule for 50, 40 years. There are people who are better qualified than him and can govern better," he said.

    Ninety-two year-old Sheikh Hassan Bashir says all that Syrians want is a peaceful resolution to the confrontation. “We are in too much pain. This is not in our interest or the interest of the Jews, or America, or France, or Britain, not even Russia, nobody. This is very damaging," he said.

    The uprising has left an estimated 4,500 people dead and is fueling tensions in the region. Turkey, Syria's northern neighbor, has called for a buffer zone to protect dissidents from pro-Assad forces.

    Israel, this past week, held military exercises in the Golan. Syria also held exercises, firing rockets into its eastern desert.

    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called it a display of Syrian bravado. “It is an event that takes place more out of fear and distress than from confidence. The Assad family is losing its grip. Bashar al-Assad's fate is sealed. He will fall," he said.

    The Arab League has suspended Syria and is imposing sanctions.

    Pharmacist Gandi Kahluni, a fervent Assad supporter, is angry at the Arab response. “The (Arab) governments are collaborators but the Arab people are still alive. At the end of the day, the Arab truth will win against those oppressors, those cowards," he said.

    Human rights activist Salman Fakhraldeen says Syrians now are discussing politics and human rights which they were afraid to do before. But he acknowledges the situation is unsettling the community. "The main problem in this small place, occupied Golan, is to keep the peaceful life of the community. The politics can be changed, but not the community," he said.

    Syrians living in occupied Golan are in a delicate position. Their country is still officially at war with Israel. As a result, the conflict in Syria heightens their uncertainties and adds to their distress.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora