Very interesting – British Journalist reports from inside Syria – THE TELEGRAPH

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10770311/Syria-As-the-bombs-fall-the-people-of-Damascus-rally-round-Bashar-al-Assad.html

The West may oppose Assad’s regime, but on the streets of the capital the people fear a greater evil.

Several of its suburbs are held by rebel fighters, who pound government-held areas with mortars.

most people live under the shadow of constant attack.

Many of the shells land harmlessly, or do not explode. Others cause mayhem. On Tuesday, one struck a school in Bab Touma (St Thomas’s Gate), killing one child and wounding roughly 40. And over the past few days the volume of the bombardment has escalated sharply.

Over the past few days, I have talked to shopkeepers, students, soldiers, doctors, a dentist, MPs and government ministers (including the minister for tourism, who must have the most thankless job in the world). On the basis of these conversations, I would judge not just that support for the regime is holding up, but that President Assad could very well win a popular election, even if carried out on a free and fair basis.

I found – to my surprise – that even people outside the governing Ba’ath party, including some of Assad’s political opponents, said they would support him.

People here see their country as being threatened by foreign powers (above all Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all backed by the West) who are sponsoring the jihadist groups that make up the opposition. I was struck by the fact that this argument is not made only by the Alawite coterie around the president. I also heard it from Sunni Muslims, Christians and members of the various other cultural and religious groups that abound in Syria.

Only a handful of members of Assad’s 30-strong cabinet (I was told two) are Alawite. The prime minister is Sunni, as are the interior minister, the justice minister, the foreign minister, even the defence minister. The delegation that travelled to Geneva for the failed peace talks several months ago was also almost entirely composed of Sunni Muslims (though they would probably reject sectarian terms, and prefer to think of themselves just as Syrians).

I do think the words of my shopkeeper friend are worth pondering. If the insurgents who killed his mother win the war, there will be no Christian churches in Syria any more (just as there aren’t in Saudi Arabia at the moment). Life will be similarly terrible for many of the ordinary Muslims who make up the great majority of the population.

There are no “good guys” in Syria’s civil war. But we should not be blind to the fact that there is a project out there to destroy its rich, pluralist and unbelievably intricate culture and replace it with a monochrome version of Wahhabi Islam, of the kind favoured by Saudi mullahs. And for reasons that history may come to judge very severely, Britain, the United States, and the West have been aiding and abetting this project.

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