Skip to comments.The Last Tourist in Syria
Posted on 07/29/2011 11:26:58 AM PDT by LibWhacker
DAMASCUS Is this your first visit to Syria, the passport control man asks me. No, I tell him, I came here once before over a decade ago. He stamps my passport. I had been very lucky to get a Syrian visa this time. The travel advice was not to visit. The Syrian regime is very wary of foreigners, fearing that journalists and spies are inflaming the situation further. I collect my bag and walk through customs, passing a poster, of modest size, of President Bashar al-Assad with the words in Arabic proclaiming: "Leader of the youth, hope of the youth."
I jump in a taxi. I ask the driver how are things in Syria. Things are fine, he assures me. There has been some trouble around the country, but things are OK in Damascus. As we drive, we chat. He points out the area where Druze live. With his hand, he waves in another direction to where Palestinian refugees live, and then again to where Iraqi refugees live. Alawites are over there and in villages. Christians this way and in villages. Sunnis are around 65 percent of the population. Kurds live in the north. Many different peoples live in Syria. I ask him how he knows who someone is or whether they are Sunni or Shiite. He tells me that he does not know and it does not interest him to know: there is no sectarianism here in Syria. We pass Damascus University. Outside there are lots of flags and pictures of Bashar and his deceased father.
(Excerpt) Read more at foreignpolicy.com ...
Great article. There is no substitute for actually going to the scene and wearing out shoe leather looking things over and talking to people.
This Emma Sky is an interesting character. A british “Orientalist” who dedicated a decade out of school doing the NGO thing, working towards peace in Israel and the West Bank, she got discouraged and went home to work with the Foreign Office briefly, then headed for Iraq when the war broke out. There she made her legend working with the Coalition Provisional Authority and then became Gen. Odierno’s right hand.
Im experienced in working in different cultures. The most alien culture Ive ever worked in is the U.S. military, she said with characteristic candor.She may have a liberal pedigree, but also a sense of humor and an open mind. How refreshing.
Hardest for Ms. Sky, however, has been facing the ways that the military has changed her antiwar views.
Its a moral compromise Ive had to make, and I think of that all the time, she said. Im always wondering how much this has changed me because in order to influence them, I had to be willing to be influenced myself.
Great article; thanks.
Interesting article. Thanks for posting.