On May 30, a bus carrying a Shiite religious delegation of 30 Iranians, Iraqis, and Afghans arrived in the southern Syrian city of Nawa (approximately 30 kilometers north of Deraa). The delegation arrived from Damascus and made a secure visit to the Sunni city. The delegation’s goal was to visit the Shiite sacred site of Imam Nawawi’s tomb, which was repaired in 2021 (after being demolished by the Al-Nusra Front in 2015). In the tomb enclosure, the Shiite group performed a customary Shiite ceremony that included flagellation.
The attached video shows the damage caused to the compound by the Al-Nusra Front:
Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi was born and died in the Nawa area. He is also known as Al-Nawawi and Sheikh al-Islam, a Muslim scholar, jurist, and philosopher. He is famous for his many books and collections of rulings, hadiths, language and translations. The Nawawi Imam is regarded as very senior by all Islamic factions, particularly Shi’a. The tomb compound was given the Arabic appellation “Maqam,” which is given to buildings that belonged to the prophets…
Will the Shiite religious compound in Nawa become a pilgrimage site for religious tourism similar to Sayyida Zaynab in Damascus? Does anyone have an interest in enhancing the sanctity of the place and creating religious “added value” for Nawa? Will the Shiite axis use the religious platform to embed itself civilian and militarily in Nawa, as it did in Damascus using the Sayyida Zaynab model? (See our special report from September 2022 on The Iranian Establishment in Sayyidah Zaynab (South Damascus), a Geographic Anchor in the Iranian Corridor)
Religious tourism to the tomb compound has already begun, even among Sunnis. A party of 40 Malaysian tourists visited the location on June 1. The religious value provides a foundation for the Shiite axis to establish a geographical anchor. This is through creating a civilian infrastructure to serve the countless pilgrims expected to come. These infrastructures will also be used to establish a military entrenchment.
For the past five years, the process of civilian and military entrenchment of the extreme Shiite axis in southern Syria has intensified. This has been the case since the Syrian regime retook control of southern Syria in the summer of 2018. Today, secret military infrastructures of the Golan Heights file operate in dozens of villages scattered throughout southern Syria, there is an Iranian and Hezbollah presence (primarily the Southern Command) in central Syrian army outposts and bases, local Syrian militias cooperating with the Shiite axis, Shiite religious activity carried out in mosques that have “undergone” Shīʿism and in numerous Husseinias that have “sprung up” all over the countryside, and in addition, civil associations, which are backed by the Shiite axis, carrying out educational-social-economic activities among the local population. (See our report from December 2020 on The Civilian Establishment on the Iranian-Led Shiite Axis in Southern Syria).
The Shiite axis has designated Deraa (in the Deraa Province) and Quneitra/Khan Arnabah (in the Quneitra Province) as the key geographical anchors in southern Syria for their entrenchment.
Tens of thousands live in Nuwa, which has a population similar to Deraa. The development of a Shiite entrenchment in Nuwa and its transformation into another primary Shiite geographical anchor will allow a continuous geographical dominance to the north. Jasim is the city to the north of Nuwa. Thus, creating a continuous geographical strip with Shiite establishment.