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Druze Mungkin Menjerat Israel dalam Perang Saudara Syria - Sejarah

Druze Mungkin Menjerat Israel dalam Perang Saudara Syria - Sejarah

6/19/15 Krisis Druze Mungkin Menjerat Israel dalam Perang Saudara Syria

oleh Marc Schulman

Selama empat tahun kebelakangan ini Israel telah berjaya untuk tidak terlibat secara langsung dalam Perang Saudara Syria. Walaupun, masih mengerikan duduk diam, kerana ratusan ribu rakyat Syria dibantai selama empat tahun terakhir, orang Israel bersatu dalam pemahaman mereka bahawa campur tangan Israel di Syria kemungkinan besar akan menjadi bumerang. Sebagai ganti campur tangan, Israel secara diam-diam memberikan bantuan kemanusiaan dan perubatan kepada penentang Sunni dari rejim Assad. Walaupun ketika rejim Assad mulai hancur, menjauhkan diri dari konflik Syria menjadi semakin sukar.

Beberapa bulan yang lalu, ada kekhawatiran kedatangan pasukan Hizbullah di sepanjang sempadan Syria-Israel mungkin memaksa penglibatan Israel dalam konflik tersebut. Namun, Israel mengambil tindakan yang disasarkan dan menghilangkan kepemimpinan Hizbullah / Iran yang telah sampai di Dataran Tinggi Golan. Tindakan Israel, bersama-sama dengan penentangan Syria tempatan terhadap Hizbullah yang beroperasi di kawasan itu, secara efektif mengakhiri ancaman Hizbullah segera di perbatasan Israel tambahan.

Kini, krisis baru mengancam untuk menarik Israel ke dalam kekacauan - nasib masyarakat Druze Syria. Druze Syria kini diancam oleh Front Al-Nusra, (kumpulan pembangkang Sunni "moderat", yang sebelumnya terkait dengan Al-Qaeda.) Front Al-Nusra telah melakukan serangan, mendorong pasukan Assad keluar dari daerah yang mereka miliki diadakan di Syria Selatan, termasuk kawasan tempat tinggal Druze. Pasukan pemerintah Syria telah menarik diri dari Syria Selatan dan memusatkan usaha mereka di sekitar Damsyik, serta di wilayah Pantai Alawait, mempersiapkan apa yang dipercaya oleh para pemerhati akan menjadi pertempuran terakhir untuk Rejim Assad. Abu Mohammad al-Julani, pemimpin Al-Nusra, baru-baru ini dikutip, mengatakan kumpulan mereka tidak menentang Druze - selagi mereka melepaskan sokongan mereka terhadap Rezim Assad, meninggalkan agama sesat mereka, dan kembali kepada kepercayaan yang sebenarnya Islam. Itu bukan kata-kata yang memberi jaminan kepada Druze.

Druze adalah komuniti kecil yang berjumlah 1,500,000 orang, kebanyakannya terletak di Syria, Lebanon dan Israel. Druze adalah (terutamanya) etnik Arab. Namun, Druze bukan beragama Islam. Druze mengamalkan agama monoteistik mereka sendiri, yang nabi utamanya adalah Jethro. Selain masa yang sangat singkat ketika ada negara Druze yang merdeka, (di beberapa wilayah Syria), Druze telah berjaya mempertahankan identiti mereka yang terpisah, sambil menjadi warga negara yang setia di negara mana pun mereka tinggal.

Komuniti Druze selalu setia kepada Negara Israel. Druze berfungsi secara meluas di IDF, bukan sebagai sukarelawan, tetapi dibuat berdasarkan undang-undang. (Orang Arab Kristian dan Muslim tidak wajib berkhidmat, tetapi diizinkan untuk menjadi sukarelawan). Terdapat kira-kira 140,000 Druze yang tinggal di perkampungan Israel di seberang Galilea. Sudah tentu, seperti semua perkara di Israel, hubungan Negara dengan komuniti Druze adalah rumit. Di satu pihak, orang Israel sebulat suara menyatakan penghargaan mereka atas kesetiaan Druze. Sebaliknya, sebagai Profesor Yitzhak Reiter, seorang pakar Timur Tengah dari Ashkelon College mengatakan: "Israel mengisytiharkan warganya Druze, 'Brothers in Blood'; hubungan Negara dengan Druze adalah ‘Alliance Alliance’. Namun pakatan ini tidak selalu diterjemahkan menjadi hak sivil praktikal, ketika berkaitan dengan pelaburan pemerintah di kota dan desa Druze ".

Druze yang tinggal di Dataran Tinggi Golan (kawasan yang ditawan Israel dari Syria dari Perang Enam Hari) tidak memilih untuk menjadi warganegara Israel, dan terus menyatakan kesetiaan mereka kepada Syria - keduanya kerana kebimbangan mereka bahawa Israel akhirnya akan kembali Dataran Tinggi Golan ke Syria, dan fakta bahawa kebanyakan Druze di sana mempunyai saudara-saudara darah tahap pertama yang tinggal hanya beberapa batu jauhnya, tepat di seberang sempadan Syria.

Dalam beberapa hari terakhir, (ketika komunitas Druze di Syria diancam), ada teriakan untuk memobilisasi bantuan untuk Druze. Kini terdapat 700,000 Druze di Syria. Sebilangan besar Druze tinggal di Jabel al-Druze (kawasan pergunungan di Syria Barat Daya.) Tentera Syria telah menarik diri dari kawasan yang didominasi oleh Druze ini. Walaupun kawasan Druze tidak berada di bawah ancaman segera untuk dikuasai oleh pemberontak, itu boleh berubah kapan saja. ISIS telah menekan Utara dan Al-Nusra mendorong ke arah Barat Daya.

Di kawasan yang lebih dekat dengan sempadan Israel, kota Druze di Khader berada dalam bahaya segera ditangkap oleh Al-Nusra. Akibatnya, masyarakat Druze - baik di Israel, dan juga di Dataran Tinggi Golan menuntut Israel mengambil tindakan apa pun yang diperlukan untuk mengelakkan pembunuhan besar-besaran Druze di Syria. Untuk menyulitkan lagi situasi pembakar, banyak veteran Druze Israel dari IDF telah menyatakan bahawa mereka - tanpa pertanyaan - akan memasuki Syria untuk berperang bagi pihak saudara mereka.

Tentera dan pemerintah Israel telah menyatakan mereka tidak akan membiarkan pembunuhan beramai-ramai berlaku. Ketua Turus Angkatan Pertahanan Israel, Letnan Jeneral Gadi Eisenkot menyatakan pada hari Selasa di hadapan sebuah Jawatankuasa Knesset bahawa Israel akan melakukan segala daya untuk mencegah pembunuhan Druze di Syria.

Sekurang-kurangnya untuk masa ini, diharapkan ancaman campur tangan Israel yang berpotensi, bersama dengan diplomasi yang tenang akan cukup untuk mencegah Pemberontak Syria mengambil tindakan terhadap Druze. Walau bagaimanapun, peristiwa selama tiga tahun terakhir telah mengajar semua pihak bahawa perkara yang tidak dijangka mungkin berlaku - lebih kerap daripada tidak. Jadi, I.D.F. bersedia untuk mengambil tindakan sekiranya perlu. Ketakutan di Israel tetap menjadi kesan dari "hukum akibat yang tidak diinginkan." Tidak ada yang dapat meramalkan apa kesan campur tangan Israel terhadap Israel, atau Syria. Namun, jika pembunuhan besar-besaran sudah dekat, Israel dengan berat hati akan mengambil risiko mencari tahu. Israel tahu bahawa ia mempunyai kewajiban moral terhadap Druze.


Perhimpunan Druze Israel & # 8217 untuk mencegah & # 8216genocide & # 8217 saudara Syria

MAJDAL SHAMS & # 8212 Bendera Syria berkibar di alun-alun utama pada hari Isnin, dikibarkan tinggi oleh orang ramai yang melantunkan suara yang menyokong tentera Syria dan Presiden Bashar Assad. Wanita memakai selendang dengan bendera Syria dan lelaki memakai kemeja bercetak dengan wajah Assad. Kanak-kanak bertengger di atas ayah mereka & bahu melambaikan sepanduk merah, putih, dan hitam kecil. Pemandangan itu bukan di sebuah perkampungan Syria yang jauh, tetapi di Israel: perkampungan Druze, Majdal Shams, terletak di bawah bayangan Gunung Hermon, di mana penduduknya masih dikenali sebagai orang Syria.

Ketika perang saudara Syria semakin meningkat menjadi huru-hara, keganasan itu mulai menjangkau kawasan kubu Druze yang sebelumnya selamat di Syria. Setelah menyaksikan penyembelihan dan pemenggalan kepala yang telah menjadi nasib kumpulan minoriti lain di Timur Tengah sejak kebangkitan kumpulan Negara Islam, Druze di seluruh wilayah ini mengetepikan perbezaan nasional dalam usaha keras untuk mengumpulkan dana sehingga Druze Syria dapat membentuk mereka sendiri tentera.

Setakat ini, komuniti Druze di Israel telah mengumpulkan lebih dari 10 juta NIS untuk komuniti Druze di Syria untuk membeli senjata dan keperluan lain.

"Israel bukan merupakan bagian dari pertempuran ini dan tidak ingin menjadi bagian, kerana jika kita mengatakan kita akan menjadi bagian dari pertempuran itu akan memperburuk rakyat kita di Syria," Druze MK Ayoub Kara (Likud ) berkata. "Tetapi saya, sebagai orang Druze & # 8212 saya akan melakukan apa yang saya mampu untuk menyokong bangsa saya. Saya sangat setia kepada bangsa saya. "

1.5 juta Druze di Timur Tengah sentiasa berusaha mencapai keseimbangan antara identiti etnik mereka yang bangga dengan negara tempat mereka tinggal. Druze tinggal di Israel, Lebanon, dan Syria, dan satu kampung di Jordan. Israel memiliki sekitar 130,000 Druze, dengan 20,000 di wilayah Carmel, 80,000 di Galilea, dan 20,000 di Dataran Tinggi Golan.

Sementara Druze di Carmel dan Galilea telah bersumpah setia kepada Israel dan berkhidmat dalam tentera, Golan Heights Druze masih menganggap Israel sebagai kekuatan penjajah dan dikenal sebagai Syria. Mereka tidak berkhidmat dalam tentera, dan sangat sedikit yang memegang kewarganegaraan Israel. Hampir setiap keluarga di antara komuniti Golan Heights Druze, tersebar di empat kampung di sudut timur laut dataran tinggi, mempunyai keluarga dekat yang tinggal di Syria.

Secara tradisinya, sebahagian besar Druze Syria telah menyokong Assad, yang menggunakan pasukan tentera untuk melindungi mereka dalam perang saudara selama empat tahun. Druze adalah cabang Islam yang prinsip dasarnya bersifat rahsia, tetapi mazhab itu dianggap bidaah oleh para pejuang Sunni radikal dari Negara Islam dan Front al-Nusra yang berafiliasi dengan al-Qaeda.

Tetapi selama dua bulan terakhir, dengan kekuatan Assad yang semakin kuat, dia telah menarik pasukan tentera dari wilayah Druze di Sweida dan bahagian timur Gunung Hermon, dalam usaha untuk bertahan di Damsyik. Ini telah menyebabkan Druze merasa rentan terhadap serangan dari kumpulan pemberontak ekstremis.

"Kami meminta masyarakat antarabangsa untuk mempertimbangkan kedudukan minoriti berbahaya di Syria," kata Mada Hasbani, seorang jenderal brigadier IDF yang berperang dalam Perang Lebanon Kedua 2006 dan kini mengetuai majlis tempatan di desa Druze di Yanuh Jat di Galilea. “Israel harus sedar, seperti yang kita pelajari dari orang-orang Yahudi semasa Holocaust. Sejarah tidak boleh berulang, kita mesti menolong minoriti yang berada di bawah ancaman pembunuhan beramai-ramai. Masyarakat antarabangsa mesti memberikan semua jenis pertolongan dan sokongan agar mereka dapat melindungi diri mereka sendiri. Peranan kami sebagai komuniti Druze adalah untuk meningkatkan suara dan menyampaikan mesej agar dunia antarabangsa dapat mengetahui dan mendengar apa yang sedang berlaku. "

Israel tidak mungkin terlibat dalam operasi darat di Syria, yang menurut MK Kara boleh melakukan lebih banyak keburukan daripada kebaikan. Ketua Staf Jeneral IDF, Letnan Jeneral Gadi Eisenkot menyebut jarak pertempuran di Syria dengan perbatasan Golan & # 8220pengangkutan & # 8221 pada mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Hal Ehwal Luar Negeri dan Pertahanan Knesset pada hari Selasa, penampilan pertamanya di hadapan jawatankuasa itu. Dia menambahkan bahawa IDF akan mengambil tindakan jika sejumlah besar pelarian mulai berkumpul di perbatasan, untuk mencegah pembunuhan pelarian.

Minggu lalu, Perdana Menteri Benjamin Netanyahu mendesak Ketua Staf Bersama AS Martin Dempsey untuk meningkatkan bantuan AS kepada minoriti yang diperangi. Dalam perbincangan dengan negara-negara lain serta PBB dan Palang Merah, Israel juga dilaporkan telah meningkatkan kemungkinan adanya "zon aman" kemanusiaan di pinggir timur Gunung Hermon, yang akan membantu Druze.

Pilihan ini muncul di hadapan setelah sekurang-kurangnya 20 Druze dibantai oleh pemberontak Front Nusra di wilayah Idlib, Syria utara minggu lalu. Beberapa pemimpin Druze, termasuk pemimpin Druze Lubnan Walid Jumblatt, mengatakan pembunuhan beramai-ramai itu adalah hasil konflik tempatan dan bukan serangan bermotivasi etnik. Dalam langkah yang tidak disangka, al-Nusra mengeluarkan permintaan maaf atas serangan tersebut. Tetapi Druze bimbang bahawa hanya tinggal beberapa saat sebelum mereka mengikuti jejak Yazidis, Kurdi, dan minoriti lain yang ditakluki oleh pemberontak Islam radikal di Syria dan Iraq yang berdekatan.

"Orang-orang Druze merasa seperti orang-orang Yahudi selama Perang Dunia II," kata Hassan Safadi, seorang doktor haiwan di Majdal Shams yang mendapat biasiswa dari pemerintah Syria untuk belajar perubatan di luar negeri. "Selalunya kaum minoriti menderita dalam kekacauan."

Safadi, yang memiliki bibi dan paman di Syria, mengatakan ahli keluarganya memberitahunya bahawa kampung-kampung setempat telah membuat milisi mereka sendiri, yang disebut "Sheikh al-Karama," atau "The Sheikhs of Marignity," untuk mempertahankan desa-desa Druze. Pada masa lalu, Druze Syria telah berkhidmat dalam tentera Syria atau di milisi tempatan yang disokong oleh Assad. Tetapi Safadi mengatakan, syeikh setempat memerintahkan para pemuda untuk tidak mematuhi perintah tersebut untuk melindungi kediaman mereka.

Daripada menunggu tindak balas diplomatik antarabangsa, Druze mengambil masalah ke tangan mereka sendiri. Druze di Syria mempunyai sejarah membanggakan untuk mempertahankan diri, kerana setiap Druze dengan cepat menceritakan kisah Sweida Druze yang bangkit menentang Perancis pada tahun 1925.

"Menurut sejarah, Druze selalu melindungi diri mereka sendiri, jadi kami yakin mereka dapat sekarang, tetapi mereka harus memiliki sarana dan syarat untuk mempertahankan diri," kata Hasbani. Menyokong saudara Syria mereka satu perkara: wang untuk senjata, kata sejumlah aktivis Druze.

"Mereka memerlukan senjata, bukan pejuang," kata Hamad Awidat, seorang wartawan Druze dari Majdal Shams yang memiliki syarikat produksi berita dengan pejabat di Lebanon dan Syria. "Mereka mempunyai 50,000 pejuang & # 8212 itu sudah cukup. Apa yang mereka perlukan adalah senjata. "

Kara, anggota Knesset, mengatakan bahawa komuniti Druze di seluruh dunia mengumpulkan berjuta-juta dolar untuk dipindahkan kepada kepemimpinan Druze di Syria. NIS 10 juta yang dikumpulkan di Israel dipindahkan melalui Jordan ke Syria, kerana haram untuk memindahkan wang terus ke Syria dari Israel. Kara mengatakan kepemimpinan tempatan akan memutuskan bagaimana memperuntukkan wang tersebut, tetapi sebahagian besarnya akan digunakan untuk membeli senjata. "Ini tidak cukup untuk membuat tentera, tetapi ini adalah permulaan," kata Kara.

Awidat berkata, langkah penggalangan dana minggu lalu yang hebat adalah contoh cara Druze dapat mengetepikan perbezaan nasional untuk menumpukan pada identiti etnik mereka. "Sekiranya kita satu kekuatan, akan ada tentera Druze dengan 200,000 tentera," katanya.

"Yang lebih penting ialah kita Druze dulu," kata Hasbani. "Kedua, menurut lokasi kami, kami menghormati negara [tempat kami tinggal] dan kami membuktikan bahawa kami setia pada identiti itu. Tetapi itu tidak mempengaruhi hubungan kita sebagai Druze atau tugas kita untuk saling membantu dan saling menyokong. "

Itulah sebabnya mengapa lebih daripada 400 Druze berkumpul di Majdal Shams pada hari Isnin petang, mengibarkan bendera Druze pelbagai warna bersama dengan bendera Syria dan poster yang menyokong Assad.

"Kami di sini untuk memberikan sokongan kepada semua Druze di Syria," kata Mune Abu Sale, seorang penduduk Majdal Shams yang bekerja di sebuah hotel. Tetapi dia optimis bahawa tentera Assad akan terus melindungi keluarganya di Syria. "Mereka telah menyokong kami selama empat tahun, tetapi sekarang [pemberontak] mulai datang ke daerah kami."

"Kami tidak memiliki senjata, tapi hati kami bersama mereka," kata Rima Shufi, sambil memeluk anaknya Elayan. Shufi mengatakan dua sepupunya telah meninggal di Syria ketika pemberontak mula menyerang di wilayah Druze dua bulan yang lalu.

Para penunjuk perasaan Druze turun ke jalan untuk memberi kesedaran kepada masyarakat Israel mengenai keadaan keluarga mereka di Syria, dan juga untuk memprotes tindakan Israel terhadap orang awam Syria yang cedera di hospital Israel.

Israel telah merawat 1.600 orang Syria yang cedera dalam konflik selama empat tahun terakhir. IDF memelihara rumah sakit di perbatasan, dan juga telah merawat ratusan warga Syria di hospital di Israel. Letnan Kolonel Dr. Itzik Malka, ketua pegawai perubatan di daerah itu, memberitahu Ynet bahawa sebahagian besar dari mereka yang dirawat adalah wanita, kanak-kanak, dan orang tua, yang merupakan orang yang tidak bersalah dalam pertempuran tersebut. Namun, dia menyatakan bahawa kadangkala IDF merawat pesakit yang mereka tahu adalah anggota kumpulan pemberontak.

"Kami meminta mereka untuk berhenti memperlakukan rakyat Syria," kata Sale pada tunjuk perasaan itu. "Mereka mengambil orang sakit, tetapi mereka adalah orang yang sama yang menembak dan membunuh kita. Dan mereka membawa orang-orang ini untuk dirawat di hospital Israel dan kemudian kembali berperang. "

"Kita harus menekan Israel untuk berhenti memperlakukan orang-orang ini," tambah Awidat, wartawan Druze. "Mereka merasa aman kerana mereka tahu Israel berada di belakang mereka."

Rima Romia adalah salah satu pengantin Druze Syria pertama yang melintasi sempadan untuk menikah di Israel, pada tahun 1986. Dia hanya kembali untuk mengunjungi keluarganya di Syria sekali, kira-kira enam bulan sebelum perang saudara bermula. Walaupun dia orang Syria, dia mengatakan bahawa mana-mana pejuang Syria yang datang ke Israel untuk mendapatkan rawatan adalah & # 8220 pengkhianat jahat & # 8221

"Kami berhubung dan situasinya sangat buruk," katanya. "Saya menyokong tentera [Assad], tetapi mereka tidak cukup." Dia mengatakan bahawa abangnya tidak tidur di rumah kerana dia keluar menjaga kampung sepanjang malam.

"Setiap kampung mempunyai orangnya sendiri yang melindungi desa dan kota," katanya. Ketika keadaan bertambah buruk, dia merasa lebih cemas untuk kembali. "Saya rasa ada api di dalam diri saya," katanya, ketika para penunjuk perasaan melingkari bendera. "Saya berharap mereka dapat membuka perbatasan sehingga kita dapat menyeberang ke Syria untuk menyokong rakyat kita.

"Assad adalah pemimpin kami, tetapi jika Assad akan jatuh, kami tidak tahu siapa yang akan menjadi," tambahnya.

Ketidaktentuan itu tergantung di seluruh Timur Tengah. Ketika Negara Islam meneruskan perarakan kehancuran, Assad kehilangan kekuasaannya, dan kekacauan memerintah di Syria, tidak ada yang pasti di mana pertumpahan darah akan berakhir.

"Ini bukan masalah Druze, ini bukan hanya ancaman terhadap Druze," kata Hasbani. "Ini adalah panggilan bangun untuk Amerika dan Israel dan semua orang."

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Ribuan demonstrasi Druze Israel untuk saudara Syria

Tamar Pileggi adalah penyunting berita terkini di The Times of Israel.

Ribuan orang Israel Druze turun ke jalan-jalan di bandar-bandar utara Isfiya dan Majdal Shams pada hari Isnin dalam demonstrasi solidariti bagi pihak anggota komuniti mereka yang terperangkap dalam pergolakan perang saudara yang berterusan di seberang sempadan di Syria.

Tunjuk perasaan itu berlaku beberapa jam selepas komuniti Druze Israel mengumumkan bahawa mereka telah mengumpulkan lebih daripada 10 juta NIS ($ 2.6 juta) untuk komuniti Druze Syria untuk membeli senjata dan keperluan lain setelah para jihadis membunuh 20 Druze di wilayah Idlib minggu lalu.

Disertai oleh orang-orang Kristian tempatan, kira-kira 4.000 penduduk Druze Israel berkumpul di pusat bandar Isfiya sambil memegang tanda-tanda membaca & # 8220Jika perlu, kami akan menyeberang ke Syria untuk melindungi saudara-saudara kita, & # 8221 dan & # 8220Kami & # 8217 rela mati sebagai syahid bagi saudara-saudara kita . & # 8221

Di kota perbatasan Majdal Shams, di mana 2.000 Druze berkumpul, seorang penunjuk perasaan memberitahu Ynet bahawa & # 8220Jalan Druze terbakar. Semua orang bersedia untuk memperjuangkan Druze di Syria yang sedang melalui masa yang sukar. & # 8221

Penunjuk perasaan lain mengatakan bahawa minggu lalu & # 8217; serangan yang belum pernah terjadi sebelumnya terhadap kumpulan minoriti & # 8220 melintasi garis merah, & # 8221 dan bahawa komuniti Druze tidak akan membiarkan ini berterusan, walaupun ini bermaksud membahayakan nyawa kita. & # 8221

Penduduk Isfiya, Mahnah Mansour mengatakan, ada ketakutan yang pasti akan kewujudan komuniti mereka di Syria, dan bahawa banyak Druze Israel bersedia menyeberang ke Syria untuk mempertahankan 800,000 Druze di sana dari kemajuan kumpulan pengganas jihad.

& # 8220Kami bertanya dan berharap, bahawa sama seperti kita setia kepada negara (Israel) dengan darah kita, penubuhan & # 8212 atau orang lain yang dapat membantu & # 8212 akan menolong kita dengan sewajarnya. & # 8221

Pada hari Sabtu, Majlis Zionis Druze mengirim surat kepada Perdana Menteri Benjamin Netanyahu dan Menteri Pertahanan Moshe Ya'alon, mendesak Israel untuk menghindari "holocaust" Druze oleh para jihadis.

"Tidak terlibat di Syria akan mengakibatkan holocaust Druze di bawah hidung kita, dan yang seperti Israel tahu apa itu holocaust dan genosida," tulis ketua dewan Atta Farhat.

Israel dilaporkan mempertimbangkan penciptaan "zon aman" di sisi Syria di Dataran Tinggi Golan untuk membantu pelarian Druze.

Majoriti Syria Druze tinggal di dan sekitar wilayah selatan Sweida di wilayah yang juga dikenal sebagai Jabal al-Druze, atau Gunung Druze, dekat dengan sempadan Israel. Puluhan ribu saudara mereka tinggal di Israel.

Pada hujung minggu, anggota minoriti Druze Israel, yang kebanyakannya mempunyai saudara dan rakan di Syria, mengumpulkan wang, pakaian, makanan, dan barang-barang lain untuk dihantar melintasi sempadan.

Sebelumnya pada hari Isnin, Likud MK Ayoub Kara mengatakan bahawa dalam dua bulan terakhir, kekacauan perang saudara Syria telah mempengaruhi masyarakat Druze kecil di Syria.

Kara, dirinya adalah Druze Israel, mengatakan bahawa keadaannya telah merosot dengan begitu ketara sehingga Druze di Syria ingin membeli senjata untuk melindungi diri.

Sebelumnya, Druze kebanyakannya menyokong rejim Presiden Bashar Assad, tetapi dalam dua bulan terakhir pasukan Assad tidak dapat melindungi komuniti Druze di selatan Syria dari kumpulan jihad.

Melanie Lidman menyumbang kepada laporan ini.

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Dunia tidak berdaya melawan jihad

Op-ed: Selepas 9/11, nampaknya dunia tidak akan pernah sama, ia bangun, mulai memahami tetapi jihad telah menjadi lebih kuat dan lebih membunuh, dan & neraka Read More Dunia tidak berdaya melawan jihad


Israel dalam Perang Saudara Syria

Dalam lawatan ke Dataran Tinggi Golan baru-baru ini, wartawan ini menggambarkan kawasan perbatasan yang terbentang dari Majdal Shams hingga Quneitra sebagai "tenang dan damai." Alasan yang jelas untuk perbatasan yang agak sunyi adalah bahawa pasukan di belakang garis sempadan dengan Israel adalah kumpulan pemberontak Syria yang disebut The Nights of the Golan atau nama Arab mereka, Fursan al-Joulan. Dengan zon penyangga yang dikendalikan oleh pejuang Fursan al-Joulan, Israel dapat menjauhkan musuh fana, Iran dan lengan pengganasnya, Hizbullah Lebanon, serta milisi Syiah Iraq juga melakukan tawaran Iran. Secara semula jadi, ia termasuk pasukan rejim Assad.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) melaporkan pada 19 Jun 2017 bahawa "Israel Memberi Wang Tunai dan Bantuan kepada Pemberontak di Syria." Judul ini agak mengelirukan kerana Israel tidak berada di dalam Syria, tetapi hanya mewujudkan zon penyangga di sebelah sempadannya. Menurut WSJ, “Israel pada masa lalu mengakui merawat sekitar 3.000 warga Syria, kebanyakan dari mereka adalah pejuang, di rumah sakitnya sejak 2013, serta memberikan bantuan kemanusiaan seperti makanan dan pakaian selama musim dingin. Tetapi wawancara dengan setengah lusin pemberontak dan tiga orang yang akrab dengan pemikiran Israel mendedahkan bahawa penglibatan negara itu jauh lebih dalam dan lebih terkoordinasi daripada yang diketahui sebelumnya, dan memerlukan pendanaan langsung para pejuang pembangkang dekat perbatasannya selama bertahun-tahun. "

Moatasem al-Golani, jurucakap Fursan al-Joulan, mengatakan kepada WSJ "Israel berdiri di sisi kita dengan cara yang gagah berani, kita tidak akan dapat bertahan tanpa bantuan Israel." Menurut al-Golani, kumpulan itu (Fursan al-Joulan) mendapat kira-kira $ 5,000 sebulan dari Israel. Kumpulan ini tidak dikaitkan dengan Tentera Syria Percuma yang disokong oleh Barat dan tidak mendapat dana atau senjata Barat.

Artikel WSJ memetik Ehud Ya’ari, seorang rakan di Institut Washington dan seorang penganalisis politik Israel, mengatakan “Israel telah menjuluki operasi Golan yang sekarang sebagai‘ ​​The Good Neighbourhood ’.” Dia berpendapat bahawa kebijakan untuk menyokong milisi pembangkang Syria dimulai di bawah pendahulunya Lieberman, Moshe Ya'alon dan sejak itu berlanjutan.

Kisah WSJ mengulangi kisah lama yang muncul di Times of Israel pada 29 Jun 2015, yang menyatakan, "Menteri Pertahanan Moshe Ya'alon mengatakan pada hari Isnin bahawa Israel telah memberikan bantuan kepada pemberontak Syria, sehingga menjaga Druze di Syria tidak segera bahaya. Pegawai Israel sebelumnya menolak untuk mengesahkan, dalam catatan, bahawa negara itu telah membantu pasukan yang berjuang untuk menggulingkan Presiden Syria, Bashar Assad. "

Ya'alon menunjukkan bahawa Israel membantu kumpulan pemberontak dalam dua keadaan. "Agar mereka tidak terlalu dekat dengan sempadan, dan mereka tidak menyentuh Druze." Ini bererti bahawa Israel mengharapkan kumpulan pemberontak untuk menjauhkan kumpulan pelampau Islam seperti IS dan gabungan al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra Front, jauh dari sempadan. Ya'alon menyatakan dasar Israel mengenai perang saudara di Syria sebagai "kita tidak terlibat." Dia menekankan, bagaimanapun, bahawa ada garis merah tertentu di mana Israel akan bertindak, seperti penyeludupan senjata yang disebut permainan perubahan kepada musuh Israel, yaitu Hizbullah.

Keprihatinan Israel difokuskan terutamanya untuk menghalang Iran dan proksi-proksi mereka untuk mendapatkan akses ke sempadan dengan Israel. Israel juga berusaha untuk mencegah Hizbullah daripada mendapatkan senjata anti-pesawat terbang, bahan kimia dan senjata mematikan lain melalui Syria dan ke Lubnan. The Jerusalem Post memetik laporan oleh Reuters pada 30 Januari 2013 yang menyarankan Israel "menyasarkan muatan senjata, pergi dari Syria ke Lebanon." Seorang diplomat menambah bahawa cache itu bukan senjata kimia tetapi mungkin termasuk peluru berpandu anti-pesawat dan anti-tank berteknologi tinggi.

Aljazeera yang berpangkalan di Qatar melaporkan pada 17 Mac 2017 bahawa "Israel melakukan serangan udara di Syria." Aljazeera menambah, "Perdana Menteri Israel Benjamin Netanyahu mengatakan bahawa serangan itu mensasarkan senjata" maju "yang ditujukan untuk Hizbullah, kumpulan Lebanon (pengganas) yang berperang dengan Israel pada tahun 2006 dan sekarang berperang bersama pemerintah Syria."

The Associated Press (AP) menyatakan pada 27 April 2017 bahawa "tentera Syria mengatakan Israel menyerang sebuah pangkalan tentera di barat daya Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Damaskus sebelum subuh pada hari Khamis (27 April), melancarkan satu siri letupan dan meningkatkan ketegangan antara kedua jiran tersebut. Ternyata berusaha untuk menghentikan pemindahan senjata ke kumpulan Hizbullah di Lebanon, Israel telah menyerang di Syria dengan kekerapan yang meningkat dalam beberapa minggu terakhir, menjadikan negara yang dilanda perang itu teater proksi untuk perang Israel yang lebih luas dengan Iran. " Laporan AP gagal menyebutkan, bagaimanapun, keterlibatan langsung Iran dalam perang saudara di Syria. Iran dan proksi Syiahnya, termasuk pelbagai milisi Syiah Iraq, kumpulan Syiah Afghanistan, Syiah Houti dari Yaman, dan tentu saja Hizbullah, semuanya direkrut oleh Republik Islam Iran untuk berperang atas nama agenda Teheran.

Israel mensasarkan senjata dihantar ke Hizbullah dari Iran dengan pesawat kargo komersial dan tentera. Jurucakap Pasukan Pertahanan Israel (IDF) mengatakan bahawa salah satu bateri peluru berpandu anti-pesawat Patriotnya mencegat sasaran di Dataran Tinggi Golan, yang digambarkan oleh media Israel sebagai drone tanpa pemandu. Ini adalah kali kedua IDF menjatuhkan drone Syria.

Menteri Pertahanan Israel Avigdor Lieberman mengadakan perbincangan di Moscow (26 April 2017) dengan rakan sejawatnya dari Rusia Sergei Shoigu dan Menteri Luar Rusia Sergei Lavrov. Lieberman mengulangi bahawa Israel tidak akan membiarkan pasukan Iran dan Hizbullah dikumpulkan di perbatasan Dataran Tinggi Golan Israel. Lieberman berada di Moscow untuk berkoordinasi dengan Rusia tindakan Israel di Syria dan cara untuk mengelakkan risiko konfrontasi Israel-Rusia. Dia juga menyatakan keprihatinan Rusia terhadap Israel terhadap kegiatan Iran di Syria, dan penggunaan tanah Syria oleh Iran untuk penyeludupan senjata ke Hizbullah di Lebanon.

Dalam perang saudara Syria terdapat beberapa pelakon. Di sisi rejim Syria Bashar Assad, ada Republik Islam Iran dengan proksi Syiah dan Rusia. Pengumpulan ini bertujuan untuk mengekalkan Assad dalam kekuasaan dan menghilangkan penentangan terhadap rejim diktatornya, yang telah membunuh sekitar 500,000 orang, kebanyakannya orang awam. Iran berharap dapat mengawal pelanggannya, Assad, dan dengan demikian menubuhkan sabit Syiah yang meliputi Iraq, Syria dan Lubnan hingga ke Laut Mediterranean dan perbatasan dengan Israel. Rusia ingin menunjukkan bahawa ia masih merupakan kuasa super dengan pengaruh besar di rantau ini. Selain itu, ketergantungan rejim Syria kepada Rusia bererti bahawa Rusia memiliki kawalan penuh terhadap pangkalan udara dan tentera laut di Latakia dan Tartus.


Agama

Asal-usul kepercayaan Druze dapat ditelusuri ke Mesir pada awal abad kesebelas. Kepercayaan mereka kemudiannya tersebar ke banyak wilayah di Timur Tengah dan Afrika Utara. Asas agama adalah kepercayaan bahawa pada masa-masa tertentu Tuhan telah dijelmakan secara ilahi pada orang yang hidup. Inkarnasi terakhir dan terakhirnya adalah al-Hakim bi-Amrih Alla, yang mengumumkan dirinya sebagai penjelmaan Tuhan di bumi pada sekitar tahun 1009. Setahun kemudian, pengikutnya membantu membentuk akidah yang masih diikuti hingga kini.

Agama Druze adalah pertumbuhan Islam, walaupun umat Islam menolaknya. Agama ini juga menggabungkan unsur-unsur agama Yahudi dan Kristian. Semasa agama itu ditubuhkan, para pengasasnya dipengaruhi oleh falsafah Yunani dan pemikiran Asiatik. Idea progresif mereka - termasuk penghapusan perhambaan dan pemisahan gereja dan negara - dianggap tidak ortodoks dan membahayakan pengikutnya. Jubah kerahsiaan ini berterusan hingga kini.

Prinsip agama Druze adalah rahsia dan misteri, bahkan bagi banyak Druze sendiri, kerana kepercayaan itu hanya membenarkan sebilangan kecil lelaki elit dan kadang-kadang wanita, yang disebut uqqal ("yang tercerahkan"), untuk mempelajari dan mempelajari semua aspeknya. Para uqqals mengawasi kehidupan beragama komuniti mereka, bertindak hampir sebagai perantara dengan Tuhan. Druze lain, dikenali sebagai juhhal ("yang tidak tercerahkan"), tidak diizinkan untuk mengakses enam kitab suci agama tersebut tetapi diberi garis besar iman mereka yang disederhanakan dalam bentuk kod moral dan etika yang ketat.

Tujuh tugas yang harus dipatuhi oleh semua Druze adalah pengakuan terhadap al-Hakim dan kepatuhan yang tegas terhadap penolakan monoteisme terhadap semua penolakan prinsip bukan Druze terhadap syaitan dan penerimaan ketidakpercayaan terhadap tindakan Tuhan yang tunduk kepada Tuhan untuk kebenaran atau kejujuran dan kesatuan dan pertolongan bersama antara rakan Druze. Walaupun mereka menghormati agama lain, Druze yakin bahawa penghakiman yang berat menanti semua bukan Druze.

Mesyuarat keagamaan diadakan pada malam Khamis di bangunan yang tidak menarik tanpa hiasan atau perabot, kecuali ceramah kecil untuk meletakkan buku semasa bertafakur. Lelaki dan wanita boleh duduk bersama, tetapi dengan pembahagi antara mereka. Semasa bahagian pertama perkhidmatan, urusan masyarakat dibincangkan, dan semua orang dapat hadir. Namun, juhhal mesti pergi ketika solat, belajar, dan meditasi bermula. Kerahsiaan di sekitar kepercayaan Druze dimaksudkan untuk melindungi pengikutnya dari penganiayaan.

In order to protect their religion and not divulge its teachings, the Druze worship as Muslims when among Muslims, and as Christians when among Christians. They allow no outside converts to their religion: one must be born into the Druze faith. What is known is that the Druze are Muwahhidun, or Unitarians, who believe in one God whose qualities cannot be understood or defined and who renders justice impartially.

Reincarnation is a key belief of the faith. The Druze believe that the number of days of one's life is fixed, not to be exceeded or diminished by a single day. Since a Druze considers his body a mere robe for the soul, he does not fear death because it is only a tearing of the robe. The Druze believe that as soon as one dies, his soul immediately is reborn into another body. If that person was bad in a previous life, however, his soul may return in the body of a dog. Reincarnation continues until one's soul achieves purification and merges with the Holy One. Hell is the failure to achieve this state.


As Syria crumbles, Golan Druze seek Israeli citizenship

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

The fifth year of Syria’s brutal civil war has marked a sharp increase in the number of Druze residents on the Golan Heights seeking Israeli citizenship.

In contrast to the only two requests filed in 2010, the number of Golan Druze seeking citizenship rose to 80 so far in 2015, Channel 1 reported on Thursday.

Citing government statistics, the television report said that some 151 Druze have become naturalized Israeli citizens since the bloody war broke out in Syria in 2011.

According to the report, the majority of the applications have been filed by Druze youths, whose connection to Syria has likely been marred by the violence there.

The Druze have openly sworn allegiance to Syria ever since Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six Day War. Many have maintained strong economic, familial and emotional ties with Syria and have remained outwardly loyal to its embattled president, Bashar Assad.

Of the 20,000 Druze residing in the Golan, only a few hundred have accepted Israeli citizenship since it was first offered in 1981.

At the time, Druze leaders declared that anyone who accepted an Israeli passport and cooperated with the “Zionist enemy” would pay the price of religious and social ostracism by exclusion from community life.

Yet, the Druze, members of a mystic sect that broke away from Shiite Islam in the 11th century, are ideologically loyal to the countries in which they reside. Israel’s Druze speak Hebrew and many of the community’s members in the Galilee region serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

The marked increase in applications could be an indication that the community’s 45-year-long loyalty to its Syrian homeland has become fractured by the raging war across the border.

In addition to disillusioned youth, some Golan Heights Druze are embracing Israeli citizenship out of a fear of widespread persecution in Syria if Assad’s regime — a government that protected the minority group — falls, or is forced out of power.

Druze are considered heretical to Sunni Islam, and have been targeted by the radical al-Nusra Front and Islamic State terrorist groups in recent years in Syria and Turkey.

Members of the Druze community confirmed to the television station the phenomenon was on the rise. But, fearing retaliation in their villages, nobody interviewed for the segment would speak on-camera.

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The Druze Militias of Southern Syria

Compared to how much has been written on the Sunni-Alawite dynamics in the Syrian civil war, little analysis exists on the Druze aspect of the conflict. This study hopes to rectify the deficiency by considering the nature of Druze militias operating in the south of Syria, specifically in Suwayda, Deraa and Damascus governorates where Druze populations are concentrated.

The Principle of Self-Defense

The most prominent name for Druze militias appears to be "Jaysh al-Muwahhideen" ("Army of the Monotheists/Unitarians"), echoing the Druze's self-description as "muwahhideen" emphasizing the strict unity of God. Most notably, here is a video from the beginning of this year of a statement from a "Jaysh al-Muwahhideen" militia in Jabal al-Arab (Mountain of the Arabs), also known as "Jabal ad-Druze": a mountainous area of Suwayda governorate primarily inhabited by Druze.

In the video, the speaker declares that the army is "under the leadership of Abu Ibrahim Ismail al-Tamimi…we are the Muslim Unitarian Druze sect…we have been and continue to be defenders of our property and sons, and protectors for them."

He also characterizes the struggle as a "jihad" but it is framed in purely defensive terms: that is, anyone who commits aggression on the Druze land of Jabal al-Arab- regardless of his/her affiliation- will suffer consequences at the hands of the Jaysh al-Muwahhideen, for they are not afraid of fighting in defence of their people. The statement was released in light of attacks on Druze in Suwayda governorate at the hands of gangs coming from Deraa, including the kidnapping of Druze youth referenced in the video.

The reference to my fellow Tamimi tribesman Abu Ibrahim Ismail al-Tamimi is an important part of Druze identity here. Abu Ibrahim was an early Druze leader who succeeded Hamza ibn Ali, who is considered to be the founder of the Druze sect during the reign of the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim in the eleventh century. While Hamza is thought to embody the principle of al-'aql ("mind") in Druze doctrine, Abu Ibrahim represents nafs ("soul"). Within Jaysh al-Muwahhideen social media circles, one finds the name of "Jaysh Abu Ibrahim" being used alongside Jaysh al-Muwahhideen.

The video linked to above illustrates the main Druze priority in the Syrian civil war: namely, to protect the community's land and honor. This principle is corroborated by interviews I conducted with the activists behind a Jaysh al-Muwahhideen Facebook page and a purely online support page called "Katiba al-Muwahhideen"("Battalion of the Unitarians"). Thus, the former stressed that the Druze militia is not concerned with "attacking the terrorists, but defense of land and honor (not aggression). We only defend." The latter similarly emphasized defending the Druze online.

Showing Support for Assad

While the focus on self-defense suggests political neutrality in theory (and indeed, the Katiba stated to me that they are not affiliated with any political faction), in practice the Druze militias will side with the local strong actor who can guarantee the preservation of Druze land.

Combined with concern regarding the likes of Jabhat al-Nusra,[1] who have for many months played a key role in fighting on the Deraa front in particular,[2] working with a variety of factions, and apparently being responsible for a recent bomb attack in Suwayda city, it follows that Jaysh al-Muwahhideen circles make a show of demonstrating Druze loyalty to the Assad regime.

Thus, the Katiba affirmed to me that in Jabal al-Arab and Jabal al-Sheikh, "people's committees for the protection of villages and towns" have been formed to fight against "terrorism," working "in cooperation with the Syrian army." The Katiba also praised the Syrian army as non-sectarian, claiming that "the Syrian Arab Army is for all Syria. In it are Druze, Alawites, Sunnis, and Christians. Not only Druze. We [i.e. the Druze of Jabal al-Arab and Suwayda, where the activists are based] have brought forth a thousand martyrs in the Syrian Arab Army in the defense of the nation and we are prepared to bring forth more."

An important aspect of the concepts of Druze loyalty to the Syrian nation is anti-colonialism, and the Druze role in uprisings against Ottoman and French rule. Hence, the Katiba affirmed to me that "all in Syria know that we [the Druze] do not attack anyone, we only defend, thus we fought Ottoman and French colonization and expelled them from our land." The fighting against the Ottomans is referring to the multiple Druze revolts against the Ottomans.[3]

In 1842, there was a revolt against direct Ottoman rule under 'Umar Pasha following on from conflict with the Maronites. Later, Druze peasant agitation beginning in 1888 developed into a revolt by 1889 in response to repeated attempts by Ottoman authorities to bring Jabal al-Hawran (later to become Jabal ad-Druze, with widespread Druze settlement in the latter half of the 19 th century) under direct Ottoman rule from Damascus. The revolt ultimately failed as Ottoman troops poured into Jabal al-Hawran and bombarded Suwayda in 1890.

Towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, refusal by the Druzes of Jabal to take part in a census ordered in 1908 led to a full-scale Ottoman invasion of the Jabal, followed by disarmament, conscription of Druze into the Ottoman army, and execution of a number of Druze sheikhs. However, Ottoman troops withdrew by 1911, which meant the Druze could revert to autonomy.

While the Druze came to support the "Arab Revolt" in the First World War, dissatisfaction with French rule led to a Druze revolt in 1925 that then took on a nationalist element spurred on by some of the Druze chieftains' sympathy with Arab nationalism. Thus in 1926, Druze leader Sultan al-Atrash insisted that the Druze would not lay down arms unless the French recognized the "complete independence of Syria."

Although the revolt ultimately failed in 1927 and led to the designation of a separate Jabal ad-Druze state, the revolt had inspired a younger generation of Druze with nationalist romanticism- just as many younger Alawites were beginning to adopt ideas of Syrian nationalism- and by 1936 Jabal ad-Druze was incorporated into Syria.

Sentiment about union with Syria was of course sharply divided among the Druze, as was the case among the Alawites. During the 1936 negotiations, both Alawite and Druze leaders sent petitions insisting on remaining separate from Syria, and appealing to Jewish PM Leon Blum's supposed Zionist sentiments. For the Druze militia circles today, however, it is the unionist side that is commemorated.

Conclusion: Separatism? Alliance with Israel?

It would be a mistake to characterize all Druze who have taken up arms in the Syrian civil war as staunchly pro-regime. Some form of distinction from the above evidence can be made between Druze irregulars and those who fight in the Syrian army- principally on the basis that the former are defined by their anonymity.

At the same time, one must be skeptical of narratives pointing to a supposedly growing Syrian Druze separatist trend. For instance, Hussein Ibish contends that Druze "militias are becoming increasingly independent and generally no longer work with government forces." There is no evidence to support this view.

On the contrary, the support for Assad emphasized in Jaysh al-Muwahhideen/Abu Ibrahim media circles (including those featuring anonymous Druze fighters), together with the testimony of Katiba al-Muwahhideen, the apparent Jaysh al-Muwahhideen martyrdoms in Jaramana, and the large and continuous stream of Druze martyrdoms for the Syrian army point to three things.

First, of the Druze who have taken up arms, a majority have done so on the side of the Assad regime. Second, there are still generally close ties between Druze irregulars and the Syrian army, mainly under the guise of people's protection committees. Third, even if actually autonomous, Druze militiamen generally want to show ties of loyalty to the regime and the Syrian nation.

Could this all change? Ya. A loss of willingness to support the regime might occur, for example, if it were being perceived that regime forces are losing much ground and on an irreversible and major retreat from Suwayda and Deraa governorates. At the present time, nothing points to such a picture on the battlefield. Druze irregulars might also turn decisively against the regime if, say, the Syrian army were forcing Druze off their land to take up firing positions against rebels. Yet this seems unlikely.

We should equally dismiss the notion touted recently in some Israeli press circles of a Druze state emerging from the fragmentation of Syria and aligning with Israel. Besides the problems of the viability of a Druze state (such as the means of supporting an economy), Druze in Syria fall in line with most of the Syrian Arab population (including Alawites and Christians) in having an existential hatred of Israel: that is, not wanting Israel to exist in any form. Indeed, the Jaysh al-Muwahhideen circles continue to highlight the issue of the "occupied Golan."

From the Israeli side, experience has shown that getting involved in multipolar civil wars by propping up one side- as was the case in Lebanon- ends in disaster. In the long-run, the rebel presence in Suwayda, Deraa and Damascus governorates is unlikely to be purged completely. Even in the event of a peace agreement entailing de facto partition, the Assad regime is likely to retain the southern and western areas of Syria. Israeli pundits' hopes of minority allies remain illusory, as Israeli officials maintain a more sober policy of overall neutrality while launching airstrikes to prevent those who might wish to wage war on Israel from acquiring new weaponry and providing occasional medical aid to refugees.

To sum up, the Druze community in Syria as a whole remains tied to the regime, whether out of genuine pro-Assad sentiment or belief in the regime as its only viable protector[iv] and there is unlikely to be a profound shift in the orientation of the Syrian Druze community, at least in the near future.

Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi is a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Catatan

[1] Note this Jabhat al-Nusra Deraa council statement from May warning the Druze against supporting the Assad regime and highlighting a supposed policy of protecting Christian villages.
[2] The increasing prominence of Jabhat al-Nusra on the Deraa front has recently been noted by some analysts (e.g. Kirk Sowell). Previously, some saw Deraa as an example of a shift to a more 'mainstream'/Salim Idriss SMC-aligned insurgency. I would clarify that while Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham may be smaller numerically than in the north and east, nothing supports the idea of a contrast whereby southern rebels are more likely to be hostile to these jihadi factions than in the north.The picture is rather of mixed views on the whole. At any rate, there is a risk of downplaying Jabhat al-Nusra's role in Deraa in earlier months (see my articles here and here). The group has consistently maintained overall good working relations with a variety of rebel factions in Deraa.
[3] In the account of the anti-colonial Druze history narrative that follows I am reliant on Kais Firro's "A History of the Druzes," Brill (Leiden, 1992).
[4] To be contrasted perhaps with an overall display of neutrality earlier on when the outcome of the unrest in Syria seemed highly uncertain.

Related Topics: Syria | Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list


How Israel Navigated through the Hurricane of the Syrian Civil War

The Syrian civil war is a disaster of historic proportions that shows no sign of ending anytime soon. The latest figures suggest that it has killed nearly half a million people, making it the greatest catastrophe to hit the Levant since 1945, dwarfing earlier crises in terms of its human cost. But throughout all this carnage, only one country that borders Syria has managed to remain largely immune to the side effects of the war. That country is Israel.

With constant fighting on the other side of the border, life in the Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights and in the Galilee goes on much as before the Syrian war began in 2011. This is not simply the result of good luck. It represents a quiet but notable success for an Israeli policy pursued over the last four years. This policy avoids taking sides on the larger question of who should govern Syria. Instead, Israel has sought to forge local alliances with rebel elements close to the border in order to prevent Iran and its allies from establishing a new platform for attacks on Israel, and keep Islamic State-aligned forces away from the border. So far, they have mostly worked.

Jerusalem has also worked to strengthen the physical infrastructure on the border. It has reordered its military presence, invested in a new border fence, deployed drones and other means of electronic surveillance, and created a new Combat Intelligence Collection Battalion.

Israel has managed to remain largely immune to the side effects of the Syrian civil war.

At the same time, Israel has acted on a number of occasions to prevent the transfer of sophisticated weapons systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and has probably carried out targeted killings on Syrian soil.

With the Syrian war now transformed as a result of Russian intervention, it is an appropriate time to look at the emergence of this policy and the reasons for its success.

The Israeli political and security establishments have been beset by differences over the Syrian war since it first broke out. Prior to the war, a powerful body of opinion within the country's defense establishment regarded the regime of dictator Bashar Assad as the "weakest link" in an Iran-led regional axis. The hope was that a blow could be dealt to the Iranians by tempting the non-Shia, non-ideological Assad regime away from its alliance with Iran and toward a pro-U.S. stance, mainly through Israeli territorial concessions on the Golan Heights.

These assumptions were among the first casualties of the Syrian war. The support of Iran and Russia was clearly of central importance to the Assad regime. Unlike authoritarian regimes aligned with the West (Mubarak in Egypt, Ben Ali in Tunisia), the Assad regime was not rapidly abandoned by its patron at the first sign of serious internal unrest. Instead, Iran and Russia mobilized all necessary resources to preserve the regime, leading to the current situation in which Assad's survival in at least part of Syria seems assured.

The Israeli political and security establishments have been beset by differences over the Syrian war.

With the prospect of "turning" Assad no longer of immediate relevance, and with a coherent pro-American alliance no longer discernible in the region, the Israeli security establishment, like many others, first presumed that the regime's survival was unlikely. In late 2011, then-Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak predicted that the dictator would fall "within weeks" and welcomed his supposedly imminent departure. "The Assad family and its faithful have killed more than 4,000 people in Syria to date," he said. "It is impossible to know who will rule Syria in the future, but in any event, it will be a blow to the axis between Iran and Hezbollah."

However, as Sunni Islamist and jihadi forces rose to prominence in the course of 2012-13, and Iranian and Russian assistance kept Assad in place, a "minority" view emerged. It held that the rise of Salafi jihadist forces among the Syrian rebels meant that the overall victory of the rebellion would not be in Israel's interest. It further posited that the Sunni Islamists had become the greater danger to Israel. This view failed to win the support of the policymaking elite. The Sunni Islamist threat was recognized, but the primacy of the Iranian threat remained.

The result has been a synthesized view that goes something like this: Iran and its allies, of which the Assad regime in Syria is one, remain the most potent and dangerous threat facing Israel. As such, the primary goal of Israeli policy should be to prevent Iranian gains, and stop Iran and its allies from using the situation in Syria to improve their position against Israel. But given the nature of the rebellion against Assad and the forces dominating it, their victory could also be harmful to Israel. There is a danger that Assad's fall could produce a Sunni Islamist regime no less hostile than Iran, and perhaps more determined to act on this hostility.

The fragmentation of Syria into rival enclaves is not necessarily bad for Israel.

As a result, Israel has no incentive to align with or actively support the rebels. The Israeli establishment's strong aversion to interfering in internal political processes in neighboring countries – deriving from the institutional "trauma" of the unsuccessful alliance with the Lebanese Christians in the 1980s – has also militated against any overt efforts at backing the rebellion in Syria. Indeed, from a perhaps harsh but realist standpoint, the war itself, and in particular the fragmentation of Syria into rival enclaves, is not necessarily bad for Israel.

However, the acceptance of the Syrian "status quo" should not induce excessive passivity. Rather, Israel should work to secure its border against spillover from the war, while actively preventing the Iranians and their allies from gaining an advantage. In addition, Israel needs to be aware of the smaller but significant threat represented by Sunni jihadi forces. These forces should be prevented from reaching the border, where they would be in a position to launch attacks against Israeli communities.

Up to now, Israeli policy has been conducted along these lines. What practical form has their implementation taken?

Syrian rebels

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits an IDF field hospital for treatment of wounded Syrians on February 18, 2014. Photo: FLASH90

It is an open secret in Israel that the country maintains relations with Sunni rebel elements in the area adjoining the border in Quneitra Province. The reason is to ensure that they remain the dominant force on the border, rather than elements aligned with the Assad regime, Iran, or the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. The Israeli policy of providing medical aid to Syrian civilians and wounded rebel fighters from this area is clearly an aspect of this policy (in addition to purely humanitarian considerations). The precise nature of the assistance afforded the rebels is not known. No evidence, however, has emerged of direct military aid. Given the great efforts to which Israel goes in order to ensure a clear intelligence "picture" of events in southwest Syria, it may be assumed that intelligence sharing probably forms part of the relationship.

The rebels located close to the border are a mixed bunch. In the southern corner is Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk, a rebel group of long standing which is now clearly affiliated with the Islamic State. Israel has closely followed the movement of this organization in the direction of IS and is concerned about it. The relations between Israel and the group are hostile, though they have not yet resulted in open violence. There are Israeli concerns that a second rebel group in the area, the Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiya organization, may also be moving closer to the Islamic State.

Israel has fostered small-scale cooperation with rebel groups regardless of their ideological sympathies.

According to informed sources, Israeli contacts with rebel elements close to the border are not limited to the Western-supported rebel coalition called the Southern Front. They also include elements sympathetic to and affiliated with Sunni Islamist groups. Israeli sources note that the rebellion is a fragmented, localized phenomenon. As such, it has been possible to foster small-scale cooperation independent of the broader ideological sympathies of these groups. As a result, one former senior security official described the area east of Quneitra Crossing as a "virtual security zone" for Israel.

The delicate and sensitive nature of such relationships is obvious. But nearly five years into the Syrian civil war, the success of this policy speaks for itself. As of today, with the exception of the small area controlled by Shuhada al-Yarmouk in the south and another small area controlled by the regime in the far north, the greater part of the area abutting the Israeli border is in the hands of non-IS rebels. And these groups, thus far, have not mounted cross-border attacks on Israel. Furthermore, according to media reports, Israel's influence over the rebels in this area has been used to prevent a small pro-regime enclave in their midst, the Druze village of el-Khader, from being harmed. The fact that the residents of el-Khader are themselves fanatically hostile to Israel adds another layer of irony to this complex reality.

Israel's influence over Sunni rebels has prevented Hezbollah and other pro-regime forces from threatening its borders.

This quiet policy of cooperation, which has kept the Iranians, the regime, and Hezbollah away from the border, has of course been accompanied by more kinetic action on the part of Israel. This has included action close to the border to prevent Iranian-led attempts to construct infrastructure to facilitate attacks on the Golan Heights. The January 2015 killing of Hezbollah terrorist Jihad Mughniyeh, along with IRGC Colonel Ali Reza Tabatabai and a number of Hezbollah operatives in an area close to the border, was the highest-profile demonstration to date of Israel's willingness to act directly to frustrate Iranian intentions in this regard. The death of Samir Kuntar in the Jaramana area of Damascus alongside a number of other Hezbollah operatives may be another example of Israel's "long arm," though Syrian rebels also claimed responsibility for the attack.

Israel does not claim responsibility for attacks on regime, Iranian, or Hezbollah weapons convoys on Syrian soil. But it is likely that Jerusalem has been responsible for a number of attacks of this kind over the last half decade. Such actions are intended to prevent or disrupt the transfer of weapons systems across the border from the regime and Iran to their Hezbollah allies. These attacks have taken place over regime heartland areas including the Damascus area, the Qalamoun mountains region, and on at least one occasion in Lebanese territory. While Israel does not comment on specific incidents, Israeli leaders have made clear that they will act to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining "game-changing" weapons technology. In April 2015, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon stated openly that Israel would not permit Iran to arm Hezbollah with advanced weapons systems.

Of course, it is much harder to measure Israeli success in this regard. The quiet on the border, however, is testimony to at least some success. With regard to weapons transfers, it is impossible to independently assess what weapons systems may have passed into Hezbollah's hands. A conclusive answer to this question will become available only in the event of a new war between Israel and the terrorist group.

However, the ongoing engagement of Iran and Hezbollah in the Syrian war itself provides an inadvertent benefit to Israel. Hezbollah probably has around 10,000 fighters deployed in Syria at any given time. The movement has lost over 1,000 dead in the war. Hezbollah has forces deployed in the northern Bekaa area to hold off the ongoing possibility of cross-border attacks by Sunni forces. With all this to deal with, renewed aggression against Israel may well be a luxury the movement is currently unable to afford.

Rusia

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, November 30, 2015. Photo: Flash90

Russia's direct entry into the Syrian civil war on September 30, 2015 appears to have ended the long stalemate. As of now, regime, Iranian, Hezbollah, and allied forces are moving decisively against the Sunni Arab rebels in Aleppo province. The regime has also made gains further south in Hama and Deraa provinces. Bashar Assad made clear in an interview in February 2016 that his intention is to eventually reconquer the entirety of the country. It appears that the goal of the regime and its allies is to eliminate the non-IS rebellion and secure western Syria, along with the majority of the country's population, for the regime.

This raises the possibility of the regime's eventual return to Quneitra province, which would also imply the return of the Syrian army to the border area. While such an eventuality cannot be ruled out, it should be noted that it does not appear imminent. The regime will need to complete the reconquest of Aleppo and Idleb provinces before such a task can be contemplated. This remains a mammoth task that is only now beginning. The rebellion has proven tenacious and hard to uproot over the last half decade.

Russian air power of course enormously increases the regime's strength. But the old situation in which the regime is able to reconquer areas but then proves unable to police them remains in effect. When it comes to pacifying reconquered areas, air power will be of limited use, unless the regime wishes to simply depopulate the area in question. So while the regime's return to the border area cannot be ruled out, it does not appear imminent.

It is no less important that Israel has been careful to maintain communication with the Russians, and a "deconfliction" regime appears to be in effect between Russian and Israeli air power over Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, and Military Intelligence chief Herzl Halevi travelled to Moscow immediately following the Russian intervention, presumably to lay the groundwork for a channel of communication. As of now, this appears to have permitted Israel to continue to operate in the skies over Syria. Thus, while the emergence of a fledgling Russian-Iranian strategic alliance in the Middle East is surely of concern to Israel, the evidence to date suggests that the alliance by no means implies carte blanche for the Iranians to pursue all their regional goals under the umbrella of Russian air cover. On the contrary, the Russians, as the senior partner in the relationship, dictate when and to what extent cooperation takes place.

Netanyahu, according to the Zaman Israel, told Russian President Vladimir Putin in "no uncertain terms" that Israel would not tolerate Tehran's efforts to arm Israel's enemies in the region, and that Jerusalem has taken and will continue to take action against any such attempts. The Times quoted the prime minister saying, "This is our right and also our duty. There were no objections to our rights. There was readiness to make sure that whatever Russia's intentions for Syria, Russia will not be a partner in extreme actions by Iran against us."

Israel appears to have taken at least two actions over Syrian soil since the Russian intervention, indicating that, for now, the agreement appears to be holding. Nevertheless, given Israel's general satisfaction with the situation east of Quneitra under the present arrangement, Jerusalem will no doubt be watching the situation carefully and with some concern regarding the possible return of the regime and other Iran-backed forces to the area.

In this regard, it should be noted that Russia and the Assad regime's stance on current efforts toward a ceasefire include the demand for the exclusion of "terrorist" groups. Thus, even if the efforts were to reach fruition, it is unlikely to have a major impact on Russian-backed regime efforts to reconquer rebel-held areas in the southwest of the country.

Israeli policy with regard to the Syrian civil war offers an example of modest, pragmatic aims pursued with a notable degree of success. Israel is now the only state bordering Syria that has not suffered major fallout from the war. Iraq and to a lesser extent Lebanon have seen the war erupt on their own soil. Jordan and Turkey have been faced with a wave of refugees and, in the latter case, the return of a Kurdish insurgency. Israel has managed, thus far, to avoid all of this.

Given the massive, historic dimensions of the events taking place in Syria and Iraq, this represents a significant achievement. A few kilometers from a conflict in which nearly half a million lives have been lost, normal life is going on unimpeded in the Israeli and Druze communities on the Golan Heights. The lesson for other countries may well be that a sober, pragmatic, realist policy, with clearly set aims and absent grand ambitions for the reshaping of other societies, offers the best route toward success.

Jonathan Spyer is director of the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Related Topics: Israel & Zionism, Russia/Soviet Union, Syria | Jonathan Spyer receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list


Kata kunci

Author's note: I am indebted to Efrat Ben Ze'ev, Cyrus Schayegh, Faten Ghosn, and William Miles for reading earlier drafts of this article and making valuable comments. I am also thankful to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive critique. Yusri Khaizran deserves special gratitude for helping to set up some of the interviews and for deciphering for me complex Druze social and political practices. Finally, I am grateful to the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts at the University of Notre Dame for supporting my research trips to northern Israel.

1 Hasan Shaʿalan, “Alfei Druzim Hifginu: Anahnu Muhanim la-Mut le-maʿan Aheinu,” 15 June 2015, accessed 6 November 2015, http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4668864,00.html ʿAdi Hashmonay, “ha-Druzim Mitgaysim le-maʿan Aheihem be-Suriyah,” 14 June 2015, accessed 6 November 2015, http://news.walla.co.il/item/2863276.

2 Hassan Shaʿalan and Roi Kais, “Thousands Call on Israel to Save Syrian Druze in Mass Protest,” 13 June 2015, accessed 6 November 2015, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4667999,00.html. See particularly the embedded video of this piece.

3 See, for example, Yahya Dabuq, “Hal Tatadakhal Yisraʾil ʿAskariyyan bi-Dhariʿat Himayat al-Duruz?,” al-Akhbar, 5 June 2015, accessed 6 November 2015, http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/234815 and Muʾassasat al-ʿIrfan li-Duruz Suriya: Siyasat Yisraʾil Marfuda wa-Lastum bi-Haja ila Tadakhuliha,” al-Manar, 22 June 2015, accessed 11 June 2015, http://www.almanar.com.lb/adetails.php?eid=1229039.

4 Noa Shpigel and Jackie Khury, Be-Mehaʾah ʿal ha-Tipul ha-Yisraʾeli be-Mordim Surim: Druzim Takfu Ambulans Tsvaʾi, Haaretz, 22 June 2015, accessed 6 November 2015, http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politics/1.2665855.

5 ʿAdi Hashmonay, “Meʾot Druzim Hifginu: Aheinu be-Sakanat Haim, Yisrael Tsrikhah le-Hitʿarev,” 15 June 2015, accessed 6 November 2015, http://news.walla.co.il/item/2863597.

6 Agnew , John , “ The Territorial Trap: The Geographical Assumptions of International Relations Theory ,” Review of International Political Economy 1 ( 1994 ): 53 – 80 CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

7 See two recent examples of studies whose analysis intentionally and conceptually goes beyond the nation-state: Tawil-Suri , Helga , “ Cinema as the Space to Transgress Palestine's Territorial Trap ,” Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication 7 ( 2014 ): 169 –89CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Schayegh , Cyrus , “ The Many Worlds of ʿAbud Yasin or, What Narcotics Trafficking in the Interwar Middle East Can Tell Us about Territorialization,” American Historical Review 116 ( 2011 ): 273 – 306 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed .

8 Howitt , Richard , “ Scale ,” in A Companion to Political Geography , ed. Agnew , John et al. ( Malden, Mass .: Blackwell Publishing , 2003 ), 138 Google Scholar .

9 Taylor , Peter J. and Flint , Colin , Political Geography: World Economy, Nation-State and Locality , 6th ed . ( New York : Routledge , 2011 )Google Scholar Delaney , David and Leitner , Helga , “ Political Construction of Scale ,” Political Geography 162 ( 1997 ): 93 – 97 CrossRefGoogle Scholar . See also Jonas , Andrew E. G. , “ Scale ,” in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Political Geography , ed. Agnew , John et al. ( Chichester, UK, and Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley , 2015 ), 26 – 27 CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

10 Howitt , Richard , “ Scale as Relation: Musical Metaphors of Geographical Scale ,” Area 30 ( 1998 ): 49 – 58 Google Scholar .

11 Anzaldúa , Gloria , Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza ( San Francisco, Calif. : Anunt Lute Books , 1987 ), 3 Google Scholar .

12 I borrow the term “alienated border” from the famous borderland typology of Oscar Martínez who defined it as one where “cross-boundary interchange is practically nonexistent owing to extremely unfavorable conditions.” Martínez , Oscar , Border People: Life and Society in the U.S.–Mexico Borderlands ( Tucson, Ariz. : University of Arizona Press , 1994 ), 5 – 10 Google Scholar .

13 For a Lebanese perspective on the connection between northern Palestine and southern Lebanon, see Bazzi , Mustafa , Jabal ʿAmil wa-Tawabiʿihi fi Shimal Filastin ( Beirut : Dar al-Mawasim , 2002 )Google Scholar .

14 Dana , Nissim , The Druze in the Middle East: Their Faith, Leadership, Identity and Status ( Brighton : Sussex Academic Press , 2003 ), 18 – 19 Google Scholar Firro , Kais M. , The Druzes in the Jewish State: A Brief History ( Leiden : Brill , 1999 ), 16 Google Scholar .

15 Harris , William , Lebanon: A History 600–2011 ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2012 ), 115 –16Google Scholar .

16 Hazran , Yusri , The Druze Community and the Lebanese State between Confrontation and Reconciliation ( Hoboken, N.J. : Taylor & Francis , 2014 ), 17 Google Scholar . See also how marriage patterns have largely reflected the separation between the two camps in Alamuddin , Nura S. and Starr , Paul D. , Crucial Bonds: Marriage among the Lebanese Druze ( Delmar, N.Y. : Caravan Books , 1980 ), 74 – 88 Google Scholar .

17 Firro, The Druzes in the Jewish State, 22–25, 71–127 Firro , , “ Druze maqāmāt (Shrines) in Israel: From Ancient to Newly-Invented Tradition ,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 32 ( 2005 ), 217 –39CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

18 See, for example, Halabi , Rabbah , Ezrahim Shvey Hovot: Zehut Druzit ve-ha-Medina ha-Yehudit ( Tel-Aviv : ha-Kibutz ha-Meyuhad , 2006 )Google Scholar .

19 See the use of this phrase in the context of the solidarity of Israeli and Lebanese Druze with their Syrian coreligionists: “Hamlat Tabarruʿat li-Duruz Suriya Taht Shiʿar Tabaq al-Nahhas,” 5 June 2015, accessed 18 November 2015, http://www.hona.co.il/news-16,N-11700.html and “Tahlilat Ikhbariyya,” al-Diyar, 1 March 2014, accessed 19 November 2015, http://www.addiyar.com/article/581797.

20 Interviews with the author, Hurfish, 21 January 2016. See also Abou-Hodeib , Toufoul , “ Sanctity across the Border: Pilgrimage Routes and State Control in Mandate Lebanon and Palestine ,” in The Routledge Handbook of the History of the Middle East Mandates , ed. Schayegh , Cyrus and Arsan , Andrew ( London : Routledge , 2015 ), 383 –94Google Scholar .

21 Jewish Agency, Political Department, Arab Section, 1 November 1942, S25/10226, Central Zionist Archives (CZA), Jerusalem.

22 Firro, The Druzes in the Jewish State, 25.

23 Tarif , ʿAbd Allah Salim , Sirat Sayyidina Fadilat “al-Shaykh Amin Tarif” wa-Sirat Hayat Sayyidina al-Marhum “al-Shaykh ʿAli Faris” ( Julis : n.p., 1987 ), 82 Google Scholar .

25 Ibid., 64–66 Fallah , ʿAli Nasib , Maqam al-Nabi Shuʿayb wa-Ghurfat al-Shaykh Nasib ( Kafar Samiʿ, Israel : ʿAli Nasib Fallah , 2003 ), 57 – 70 Google Scholar . See also Junblatt , Kamal ’s account of frequent visits of Palestinian Druze to Mukhtara, his hometown, in Kamal Joumblatt , Pour le Liban ( Paris : Stock , 1978 ), 90 − 91 Google Scholar .

26 Firro, The Druzes in the Jewish State, 21−22.

27 A report on the celebrations of Nabi Shuʿayb, 24 April 1944, S25/21107-8, CZA Abou-Hodeib, “Sanctity across the Border,” 390–91.

28 See also Muʿadi , Mansur , Rajul al-Karamat, al-Shaykh Jabar Dahish Muʿaddi ( Yarka : printed by author , 2014 )Google Scholar . The book contains documentations and accounts of diverse relationships between Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese Druze before 1948.

29 Scholarship on Israeli Druze tends to be broadly divided into two approaches. The first argues that Israel (even during the Yishuv years in Mandatory Palestine) has shrewdly used divide-and-rule policies to artificially separate Arab Druze from other Arab-Palestinian communities. Kais Firro's previously referenced book can be squarely placed within this group. See also Halabi, Ezrahim Shvey Hovot. Pendekatan kedua menunjukkan pemutusan antara Druze Palestin dan Arab lain di Palestin selama tahun-tahun Amanat. Pada tahun 1948, dikatakan, Druze secara strategis memutuskan untuk menyelaraskan diri mereka dengan Israel dan akibatnya "sumpah darah" dibentuk antara mereka dan negara Yahudi. Nissim Dana Druze di Timur Tengah adalah gambaran yang jelas mengenai hujah ini. Lihat juga Nisan, Mordechai, “The Druze in Israel: Questions of Identity, Citizenship, and Patriotism,” Middle East Journal 64 (2010): 575 −96CrossRefGoogle Cendekiawan. Namun, kedua pendekatan ini mengakui bahawa sejak tahun 1948, Druze telah didiskriminasi oleh negara. Tetapi sementara yang pertama melihat diskriminasi ini sebagai keadaan struktur yang melekat dalam definisi dan amalan Israel sebagai negara Yahudi, yang kedua melihatnya sebagai kenyataan malang yang harus dan dapat dipinda.


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