Divide and Conquer: The Growing Hezbollah Threat to the Druze

Summary:

Deep political, familial, and religious ties have allowed Druze communities across the Levant to remain largely unified against external threats, but eight years of violence in Syria and a coordinated campaign by the regime and its allies now threaten to destabilize regional Druze politics and erode the sect’s political and military power. An Iranian-backed campaign by Hezbollah to incite inter-Druze violence in Lebanon has curtailed this unity, laying the groundwork for Hezbollah to expand into Syria’s Suwayda province with impunity.

Hezbollah’s push to create inter-sect strife has extended from Beirut to the occupied Golan Heights to Suwayda, placing the region’s Druze in a greatly weakened position. This risk is particularly pronounced in Suwayda province, where attempts by Hezbollah and the regime to change the military and political reality on the ground have led to a major shift in power dynamics there, with Hezbollah now affiliated with 60% of armed groups in the province. This paper studies various Hezbollah, Iranian, and Syrian regime attempts to escalate against the Druze political establishment in Israel, Lebanon, and Syria, and the repercussions of these moves across the region.