The assassination of Sheikh Wahid al-Balous has caused tremendous strife inside the Druze community. The majority of established Druze clerics are extremely pro-regime, however, Balous was a very outspoken critic of the Assad regime. Balous was also the leader of a large anti-regime milita in Sweida called “The Sheiks of Dignity”. Like most things in the Middle East, the group also had dimensions of being a religious movement. It is important to note that there are also pro-Assad militia’s among the Druze community, including the National Defense Front and the hard-right Syrian Social Nationalist Party. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki6FdtZbCo8[/embed]
After the assassination, the immediate question was “who did it?”. So far, the answer to this question is “we do not know.” The supporters of Balous immediately blamed the regime, while the pro-regime figures called it a “terrorist attack” (Note: “Terrorist” is a catch all term for the opposition for many pro-regime figures) and tried to calm tensions. The Western/Gulf backed Southern Front of the Syrian Opposition stated that such an assassination was “inevitable” and called on the Druze community to commit to the opposition.
Balous was a major problem for the regime because of his outspoken criticism. Chief among these was his opposition to the drafting of the Druze to fight for the Assad regime. Most Druze decided to form local protection militia’s in response to the attempts by the Assad regime to draft members of their communities. Balous also was an advocated for Druze autonomy and a supporter of the Syrian Opposition.
Whatever happened, this event is going to increase tensions among the divided Druze community. We have already seen footage of protests in response to this attack. No matter where the Druze stand politically, there is nothing more important to them then their community. Most would consider this assassination unacceptable.