On this first anniversary of the start of the Syrian uprising, I wrote to a friend in Damascus to ask how things are going, where they might be headed. Syria’s two biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, have seen almost none of the violence that has gripped the rest of the country, except for a string of suicide bombings.
However, they certainly feel the effects of the regime’s crackdowns elsewhere and the impact of the harsh international economic sanctions that have followed.
The friend is Christian, middle class and agreed to let me publish her thoughts and observations here. I have made minor edits.
“Being in the capital things feel a lot less stressful than the outskirts. But still as girls we used to go out at night with no problems, now it’s definitely not as safe as it used to feel before. I try to be home by dark and if I need to park my car away from home and it’s late, someone from the house would have to meet me up and walk with me to the house….Every once in a while you hear sporadic gunfire… Last night around 2:00 o’clock at night I head four consecutive blasts.
“We have power cuts of six hours total a day and I try to arrange my schedules around the power cuts schedules. Talking to people and being part of it, everyone is so sick of the power cuts. In the suburban areas they have almost up to 12 hrs…
“The sanctions don’t end at the power cuts. For example now at the house we are running out of diesel and we are waiting for our turn for the fills. It’s more expensive and we just had enough to heat water for showers. There was a gas shortage ten days ago and there were long lines at the gas stations. Kids have to study and do homework on little lamps or even candles. The food has become expensive. Basic foods like eggs, milk for kids, chicken. Almost every product now costs double what it used to.
“It doesn’t matter anymore if I feel the regime is winning, which it looks like they are. The overall popular uprising will never stop, simply too many people have lost their dear family members and this will never stop. It feels more like when one area is silenced for couple of days another become active!
“It seems that if the international community wanted this regime out, it would have been out a long time ago. Now the case seems to have shifted on humanitarian aid rather than the uprising generally.
“I feels like this will never end. Now there are two armed sides with lots of blood and the regime will not give up. The only way is through negotiations which have failed to even start.
“People are definitely worried and depressed, the young now feel like the world has shut the door to them. I know many that have offers to work in the [United Arab] Emirates after a year of unemployment or so in Syria. But now they can’t go because they can’t get visas.”