Several audio and videos in which some tribal figures, whom the intelligence branches of the regime had selected carefully, call upon the local civilians of Deir Ezzor to join the ranks of Assad have recently gone viral on social media. They also include the idea that the recruitment will be done only after a process they called ‘reconciliation’ and then it will be followed by the formation of a ‘national army’.
Playing the card of the tribes is not something new for the Assad regime as it has always sought to use to maintain its control over the province that is dominated by a tribal nature. It has used tribal leaders as tools to control the province by enabling them to win seats in the People Council that has been known for its loyalty to the regime, no matter what the circumstances are.
With the beginning of the Syrian revolution, the role and influence of the tribal figures diminished since some of them kept being silent and neutral, with a group of others who chose to join the revolution when it was at its height before embracing the regime again when the revolution was being diverted from its goals due to many factors and events. After the Assad regime, who were backed by the sectarian militias and the Russian forces, gained control over the Shamiyah area ( the southern bank of the Euphrates River) they have reappeared again after being ordered by the regime to recruit pro-tribal figures and people into the ranks of Assad with the aim of forming a national army that serve and preserve the interests of the regime.
Pro-Assad tribal figures are using their tribal positions to communicate with their relatives and acquintees within the same tribe in order to convince them to support him and listen to his orders in exchange for reconciliating the conditions of those who took up arms against the regime, no matter what faction he was affiliated with, apart from Daesh affiliates. Once the reconciliation process is done, they will be recruited into the ranks of tribal militias formed in their local areas that will operate under the command of the Assad’s forces.
The regime did not only focus on the tribal leaders and dignitaries to ensure the success of its new project, but is relying on some figures from the province who have long been known for their devotion to the Baath Party and the Assad family as well as the intelligence branches.
What are the dangers of forming tribal militias in coordination between Assad’s forces and some tribal dignitaries?
Deir Ezzor preserved its tribal identity either before or after the revolution. The tribal structure of the society remained the most striking factor that pushed the locals to stand against all kinds of occupiers, starting from Assad to Daesh and finally the SDF.
However, many tribal dignitaries and leaders have been exposed for following the strongest power in the region throughout the different phases of the revolution. For example, some of them pledged allegiance to Daesh when it was in control of the province and recruited some of their youths into the ranks of the Assad regime, through the biggest number of them remained loyal to the revolution.
The tribe has been used as a tool to cause division and disputes among the different factions and the tribes themselves, and this is why the regime is trying against to play the card of the tribe in order to maintain its control over Deir Ezzor. The reoccurrence of such a project will bring about several dangers, some of which are as follow:
Tearing up the tribal facbric in the province: This project will cause divide every tribe into different conflicting groups since some would be in the ranks of the regime and the other with the rebels.
Creating a environment for revenge: If Assad succeeded in finishing his project of arming the sons of the tribes, weaponry will be mainly used for taking revenge, mainly because the project will only arm some tribe and leave others unarmed.
Dark plans are being planned against the province that has been abandoned to its fate for a quite long time, despite being one of the pillars for ensuring stability in Syria after Aleppo and Damascus. The rebels liberated 95 percent of the province and the regime was only in control of 5 percent, but it is trying to return again and transform it into a place of revenge and bloodshed ruled by its authoritarian regime.