Erstellt am: 18. 7. 2012 - 17:02 Uhr
Damascus: Three Days of Living Dangerously
You may or may not have noticed, many members of my family and certainly many of my friends, especially on the Arabic side of my family, are writers and journalists. Sammy Khamis , Abdel-Rahman Hussein, Wael Eskandar, Sarah Carr - they’ve all contributed either online or on-air on FM4 since the historic events of the Arab Spring. I would like to introduce you to another accomplished journalist in my circle of friends but I unfortunately am not at liberty to give you this amazing writer’s name. The dangers are too great. The Syrian government does not take kindly to any critical and/or truthful reporting done from within its borders. Keeping a serious promise to keep a journalist- colleague's identity a secret, I am honoured to share my page with my friend's words...
Damascus: City Of Change
Damascus has been a paranoid city for most of the 16 months that this revolution took to reach the capital. During these times, people would look behind their shoulders once or twice before they talk about the political struggle the country is facing. They would say something short and harmless then regret it for weeks. This is an improvement, though, if you know that such political discussion would, before the revolution, take place only in closed doors and with trusted friends. Even then, it wouldn’t be totally safe to assume that such conversation might not lead you to prison.
All of this is changed now. Today, a reportedly small suicide explosion took the lives of three major officials in the Syrian regime. Funnily, two of them were announced dead by the Free Syrian Army in May, claiming that they were poisoned. However, the government said otherwise back then. The people in the streets and on Facebook are discussing the matter openly. A friend even said, on a status on Facebook that “they died like pigs”. That Status got a big number of likes.
The incident came after three days of constant conflicts in multiple neighborhoods in Damascus. We’re talking about helicopters and machine guns; burning tires and blocking roads; exchanging fire in downtown Damascus; and people running scared to their homes. Damascus, the oldest capital in the world, is being attacked by its own army; while the boarders with Israel, a 40-year-old enemy of the state, are empty of the soldiers who were sent to the conflict points inside the country.
“The city is sad this evening,” my friend told me on Whatsapp, a messaging application that is blocked in Syria but the people found their way around the block, “it is a city of sorrows now. The streets are empty of the people; they used to be no place for you to stand in the sweets shop downstairs; now it’s empty.” He told me that a helicopter passed by that same morning and added “when I was a young kid, I used to love to watch planes in the sky, now, it just freaks me out.”
These two friends are not the only people who are talking loudly anymore. The gunshots are now shushed with the voices of the people who are, maybe for the first time ever, having their say about what is around them.
The scene in general is reminding us of the final days of Qadaffi. However, do we really have the hope of repeating the same scenario? We’re not totally sure. A lot of the people inside of Syria are wary of the reasons why the National Syrian TV is actually reporting these incidents instead of hiding it like they do usually. For example, a video on YouTube was the buzz of the internet in the past two days, which shows how Addounia TV is interviewing people in Midan claiming that there are no conflicts or gunshots in Midan area in Damascus; while the background sounds is basically a constant sounds of bullets.
So, the questions people are asking are: since when the Syrian TV is actually reporting real news on TV? Is there a reason behind it? Are we in for another game by the regime? Or is it indeed the Endgame? These questions, and the conspiracy theory that the Syrian people love so much, is forcing them to foresee the next steps in Damascus now.
However, let’s face it. What is left for the Syrian regime to do, really? These final steps they are doing, regardless of if they are indeed trying to use this incident to their advantage or not; does not help them face the internal struggle they have inside of Syria. The regime managed to buy itself time with the support of Russia not to face charges for its action on the international front; but that gave time to the revolutionists to get armed; to get angry and to get to Damascus. Now, no one can actually safe the regime from its fate. No foreign country can now come and take over the capital for the ruling family. They are on their own from now on.
As I write this; the news are breaking none-stop. We hear that Maher Al-Assad, the president brother, is injured and in a hospital; that Hafez Makhlof, the head of the investigating committee in the Syrian Intelligence is dead, and other big figures as well. What is real and what is not? We’re not totally sure. But the feeling that is getting through on Facebook, through emails between friends, on chats and between me and my loved ones, is that this is the final hours of the situation. What to happen next? Syrians are standing on their windows waiting to see; maybe they will be in the streets soon enough.