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5 June 2012, Gateway House

Is this my Syria?

A former Syrian radio show host currently residing in the U.S. blogs to Syrians and world leaders alike to put an end to the crisis and to create a new and better Syria.


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When the uprising in Syria began in March 2011, Syrians went into shock. We were fearful and disbelieving because Syria was known to be one of the safest countries in the world for locals and tourists alike. Whether you were in the opposition or pro-government, or whichever shade your political opinion was, a Syrian simply could not comprehend a Syria that was “unsafe.”

Never in my life, or of any Syrian of any political opinion, did we imagine that Syria would one day reach the level of atrocities it has reached today.  Every Syrian is asking himself or herself in disbelief: Is this my Syria? Is this my safe, secular country?

The Syrian people, I believe, starting with myself, did not know how to respond to the uprising, neither politically, personally, socially nor emotionally. All that has now changed and keeps changing, even as something new unfolds everyday.

At some point, after a short or long period of denial, many of us started recognising our own political opinions—whether we express them or not. We have started realising the truth, or what we assume to be the truth. The harsh circumstances on the ground, and the multiple truths and lies of the local and international media, have all played a role in forming our rainbow spectrum of opinions, emotions, actions, reactions and responses.

This rainbow of political opinion amongst Syrians, which includes pro-government and opposing voices, also includes extremist political opinions and actions at both ends of the spectrum. But at least half the people remain a silent majority due to the fear factor. They oppose the government, but may be quiet and politically inactive because they are fearful for their lives and for their family’s lives. Even on the other side, there are many who are silent—they tilt towards being pro-government but may say nothing or are not active because they are fearful of the unknown, of change; they are at, or waiting for, the tipping point.

Across the spectrum, however, one thing is clear—black or white, grey or whatever colour we may be, Syrians want peace. We want the violence to stop. Overarching the broadband of opinions, if we take a general view of what Syrians are feeling today, most of us see that Syria has become a playing field for disparate international communities, foreign and Arab policies, and ever-changing stands and strategies on “how to save and free Syria.”

What is happening in and to Syria is critical, complex and murky.

There are too many chefs in one troubled kitchen—Iran, Hozb Allah, Russia, China, Turkey,  Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Europe and the United States—all stirring the brew over 15 months of growing chaos and death. What does this tell you about where Syria is going? There needs to be only one Master Chef—and that is the Syrian people.

Why do the stands about “how to save Syria” keep changing? Despite the keen involvement of so many players, why are there are no solutions? Why is there more turmoil instead? Why would we want Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia to supposedly support Syrian revolutionaries, when they need to implement democracy in their own countries first before they sell it to us? Why would we want more weapons from them or from anyone for that matter to come into Syria?

Weapons entering Syria means these very weapons are going to stay in Syria; it means more bloodshed. Moreover, can these weapons stand against heavy artillery? And is it logical for these GCC countries to smuggle weapons to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), when they can’t grant a visa to a Syrian fleeing for his or her life and safety? Their weapons are welcomed in Syria, but Syrians are not so welcome in the Gulf; yet they are welcome in the United States for 18 months under temporary stay visas and work permits.

This tells you something; as does history—Arabs rarely stand united, and this makes us vulnerable—all thanks to our leaders and to us for accepting such leaders.

And what happened to Turkey? Turkey was all for freeing Syria, then it suddenly quietened down. But after the massacre at Houla on May 25, 2012, we hear Turkey’s outrage against the Syrian regime once again.

Meanwhile, even as foreign and Arab policies tighten and loosen their ropes on the Syrian regime, as the UN watches and demands the impossible (cease fire and slaughter), innocent souls are being killed in Syria everyday, in horrific and unimaginable ways.

I can go on, but I won’t analyze the obvious. I am not a political analyst, but rather a civilian, and this is my point of view of a country I am proud to be from.

Syria is a strategic place and now a playing field for a struggle for power. What we should be struggling for is peace for Syria, and the creation of a new and better Syria.

As a Syrian who just moved from Syria to the United States, I am repeatedly asked two questions: What do the Syrian people want? What do you think is the solution?

These are questions for people on the inside, the people who have spent their lives in Syria, the people who are still there and experiences physical, emotional, mental or economic suffering – or all those put together.

Honey al-Sayed is a media specialist, who now resides in the United States.

This blog was exclusively written for Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. You can read more exclusive content here.

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