Jabal al-Druze (red) in former Syria with Al Jazeera (green)
(and largest city)
|Legislature||Council of Elders|
|-||Jabal Druze State||1921-1936|
|-||Independence||DAY MONTH 1983|
The Jabal al-Druze (Arabic: جبل الدروز, literally, Mountain of the Druze) is a small nation-state located in the southern part of the former nation of Syria.
The nation is primarily (about 85%) comprised of the Druze, an ancient Abrahamic ethno-religious group with gnostic and Neo-platonic elements. The next largest population are Eastern Orthodox Christians (about 10%) followed by largely Bedouin Sunni Muslims from the southeast (about 5%).
The name Jabal al-Druze (جبل الدروز) translates literally from Arabic to Mountain of the Druze, which refers both to an elevated volcanic region and the state that is located in that region. Jabal comes from the Arabic word for mountain, while al-Druze is derived from the exonym for the ethno-religious group that comprise the majority of that region.
The most common theory as the the origin of the word Druze is that it derived from the name of Muhammad bin Ismail Nashtakin ad-Darazī (from Persian darzi, "seamster"), an early Druze preacher. Another theory states that the word Druze derives from the Arabic word dāresah, meaning "those who study." Another theory speculates the word come from the Persian word darazo, meaning "bliss." Anyway, the Druze refer to themselves as al-Muwahhideen, or "believers in one God."
The name of the nation-state was first used in in 1927, when the French mandate in Syria renamed the State of Souaida to Jabal Druze State. It was reinstated in 1983, following Doomsday and the nation's independence.
The history of Jabal al-Druze spans a millennium, from the start of the Druze religion in 11th century Egypt to the present day republic in the southwest of former Syria.
The Druze religion began in Cairo in 1014, with a Persian-born Ismaili scholar, Hamza ibn 'Alī ibn Ahmad, gathering clerics to support his unitarian message. When his ideas were made public in 1017, the Fatimid caliph, al-Hakim, lent his support and may have even converted. After al-Hakim mysteriously died, his young son's regent ordered the destruction of the sect in 1021.
Despite being forced underground, the faith grew substantially, especially in Syria and Lebanon due to conversion by many Tanukhids. In 1043, the Druze leader banned conversion and proselytization, limiting the Druze population to the descendants of the early converts. During the Crusades, the Druze were effective warriors in defending against the Christians alongside Muslims, earning the community greater respect in Lebanon and Syria.
After the Crusades were over, however, in 1305 the Mamluk Sultan issued a fatwa against all non-Sunni Muslims, including the Druze, Alawites, and Shi'a. The Druze were regularly attacked and decimated, and under the Ottomans they led a couple of small rebellions that incited punitive expeditions in the 16th and 17th centuries.
In 1711, at the Battle of Ain Dara, two rival factions of Lebanese Druze, the Qaysites and Yemenis (who had emigrated from Yemen during the Arab conquest of Syria in the 7th century) fought for dominance. The Yemenite sect was defeated at Ain Dara, and this led to their migration from Lebanon to the region that would become Jabal al-Druze.
During World War I, the Druze, especially under leader Sultan Pasha al-Atrash, were vital to efforts to remove the Ottomans from Syria. After the war, with France assigned control over the Syrian Mandate, the Jabal al-Druze State was established in 1921. This was the first autonomous Druze state in the group's history.
In 1925, a revolt led by al-Atrash that started in Jabal al-Druze spread throughout Syria, only to be put down by the French in 1927. As a result, Damascus, Aleppo, the Alawite State, and Jabal al-Druze were merged into a united Syria in 1930.
The Druze were also the only region of Syria to gain freedom from French rule without British assistance in 1945. Following Syrian independence, however, they were demonized by Syrian Presidents Shukri al-Quwatli and Adib Shishakli and largely marginalized and forcibly integrated to Syrian society. Under Ba'athist rule, the Druze were less stigmatized and some held powerful positions in the Syrian cabinet of Hafez al-Assad.
Syria had been closely allied with the Soviet Union since 1956. As a result, and the nation's close integration with the Soviet military apparatus, including large-scale military bases as Latakia, Syria was a target for the United States when nuclear holocaust arrived.
Also impacted by nuclear strikes in Jordan - King Hussein Air Base at Al Mafraq – destroyed by air burst
Divided into three districts: Shahba, As-Suwayda and Salkhad.
Prior to Doomsday, Jabal al-Druze was led by a Governor appointed by the President of Syria. This model of external governance was always unpopular among the Druze, who largely embrace their own community but reject outsiders.
After Doomsday and the establishment of the new state in Jabal al-Druze, the government has been an tribal republic with theocratic elements. Such a government is comprised of an advisory and consultative legislature and a powerful executive, who is widely viewed as the head of both the state and the Druze community and faith.
- Pan-Arabic Party: Dir' al-Watan (The Homeland Shield), led by Sheikh Yusuf Jerbo
- Particularist Party: Rijal al-Karama (Men of Dignity), led by Sheikh Wahid al-Bal’ous
- Christian Party:
- Bedouin Party
In addition to the small standing army, each political party has a militia wing.
The economy of Jabal al-Druze is largely based upon
Jabal al-Druze is largely defined by religion.