During four years of civil war, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could count on the country’s Druze to keep quiet. Like other religious minorities, the Druze community tended to back the strongman, fearing their fate could be worse under the rebels, who are mostly Sunni Muslims.
Recently, however, the Druze have been defying Assad's government. Many are refusing compulsory military service. Increasingly, Druze spiritual leaders are criticizing the embattled president and urging their community to adopt a neutral stance in the conflict.
Representing less than 3% of Syria's population, the Druze have little margin for error in picking the winning side.
Remember, the deal was that the Druze would fight for Assad who would protect the Druze from a hostile majority. If Assad is going to lose, the deal is that the Druze will die for a losing cause and then suffer retribution from the victors, too. That's not nearly as good a deal.
The Kurds are doing this already. But they are geographically distant from the center of Assad's power and never really trusted, anyway. So their attempt to survive apart from Assad is not shocking.
Although they are flexible enough to fight with Assad's forces against ISIL at Hasakeh in the northeast.
If Assad had more power relative to ISIL and other jihadis, Assad might have made a deal with the Kurds exchanging autonomy for a common alliance against Sunni Arab rebels and terrorists.
Is this the start of every clan for itself decisions in Syria?