The locality of al-Jeeza is in east Deraa countryside. The locality returned to the control of the Syrian government in summer 2018 as part of the campaign backed by Russia that saw the entire southern region of Syria return to government control. The municipal council of al-Jeeza is responsible for overseeing provision of services in the locality. To learn more about the current situation in al-Jeeza, I interviewed on 28 July 2019 Muhammad Mahmoud Tabash, the head of the al-Jeeza municipal council. The interview is slightly edited and condensed for clarity. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: Firstly can you tell me a little about the locality of al-Jeeza in a general sense?
A: The locality of al-Jeeza is located in the east countryside of Deraa province. The number of inhabitants is 27,000. The inhabitants ork in agriculture and business. And the biggest portion work in the Gulf states.
Q: And who are the biggest clans in the locality?
A: al-Zo'abi, al-Khateeb, al-Suwaydan, al-Hariri, al-Rifa'i, in addition to al-Barm, al-Rawashida, al-Antabli, al-Hassani, al-Tabishi, al-Amour, al-Shaqiri and al-Wardan.
Q: How many members does the [municipal] council have? And what are its main offices
A: The council is composed of 13 members, including the head of the council. Derived from it is an executive office composed of five members and they are:
- The head of the council
- The deputy head
- Member of the health office
- Member of the education office
- Member of the buildings and violations office
Q: How is the services situation in the locality? For example for how many hours does the national grid electricity come? And the water is available from the state network?
A: Regarding the electricity, [it comes for] 4 hours per day. The water [comes for] 24 hours every 15 days.
Q: What are the greatest accomplishments of the municipal council during the past year? What are the coming projects if God wills?
A: The municipal council has accomplished many things, among them civil peace in addition to repairing the infrastructure of water, electricity, sewage and phone [line], as well as renovating the schools and roads. It has also worked hard to restore the displaced people to the homeland. All of this work has been done with the help of the people and local society and stretching of the hand of help and offering of what is required.
There are many projects among them bringing online the clinics of al-Jeeza and transforming them into a hospital, restoring the water network in the Kaheel wells affiliated with the locality of al-Jeeza. And after the opening of the civil status centre in the locality, we are striving to open a conciliation court.
The security aspect: the district building has been renovated by the help of the civil society which has led to the restoration of security, safety and stability.
A sports club has been established in the locality and it has achieved great accomplishments at the level of the Republic.
An electronic survey has been done for all the families in the localities which has contributed to organizing work of distributing the allotments offered by the state: gas etc.
The municipal council undertakes works of cleaning according to the capabilities available as we have also undertaken a campaign of spraying pesticides and countering street dogs.
Q: What are the greatest challenges that the locality faces in terms of services? For example has the gas and gasoline crisis impacted life in the locality?
A: The challenges it is facing: the return of security and safety and people has led to an urban and societal renaissance, which has led to an increase in demand on resources of power, especially electricity and water. As for the gas and gaslone crisis, there was light pressure dealt with by the people very smoothly.
Q: In general has life improved since the reconciliations and the return of the area to the embrace of the homeland?
A: Yes, life has improved and the evidence for that is the return of most of the people to the locality and the urban renaissance, in addition to the economic prosperity that is recovering day after day. al-Jeeza is also now considered a main shopping centre for the neighbouring villages.