Robert M. Danin

Middle East Matters

Danin analyzes critical developments and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

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Voices From Syria

by Robert M. Danin
August 4, 2013

Free Syrian Army fighters smoke waterpipes near the Menagh military airport, in Aleppo's countryside January 25, 2013 (Hassano/Courtesy Reuters).. Free Syrian Army fighters smoke waterpipes near the Menagh military airport, in Aleppo's countryside January 25, 2013 (Hassano/Courtesy Reuters)..

“Ramadan used to be a time for me to read the Quran, pray and help people with charity but now we are fighting just to get bread, food and enough money to live ourselves,” –Abu Marwan, a 50-year-old minibus driver from Zahara, a neighborhood in southern Damascus.

“They’ve [government troops] blocked everything here — electricity, phones, water. The only thing they haven’t blocked is the air we breathe.” –Walid Fares, an activist in Hamidiyeh area of Homs

“Time is running out for all these [jihadist] groups. They use violence and religion to try control us and, although people are afraid to openly express their dissent, no one wants them.” –Nizar, an activist from Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor

“People used to invite all friends and family for the first day of Ramadan, but this year it’s barely heard of. The rituals and traditions of Ramadan are not being practiced.” –Sarah, a 22-year-old resident of Damascus’s Bab Touma neighborhood

“This time we will clean Homs completely and will not leave any germs behind us. Homs should be cleaned forever from all traitors. We will retake Homs, whatever the cost and whatever weapons we use.” –Abu Haidar, a pro-government Syrian fighter

“We reject this oppressive brand of Islam… We are Muslims. You’re [Al-Nusra Front] just fakes.” –a woman protester in Raqa, Syria

“Homs has two nicknames, the city of al-Waleed and the city of jokes. The killer Bashar al-Assad killed the smiles and the jokes from Homs, and now he wants to destroy the mosque.” –Bilal, a Syrian rebel fighter

“The money that I saved used to mean security, but with the fall of the pound against the dollar, it means nothing now. I honestly don’t know what to do. I don’t want to keep money in the pound, as I’m scared it might fall again, but I don’t want to sell hard-earned money for quarter the value I got it for.” –Abu Hashim, a 52-year-old Damascus resident whose family owns several shops

“For two years, the regime couldn’t retake Homs. Now they want to retake it, but after changing its demographic and sectarian fabric.” –Abu Nizar, 55, a resident of the Ensha’at district in Syria

“Where is the international community? What are you waiting for? We hope that you will not go back to the States before you find a solution to the crisis. At least impose a no-fly zone or an embargo…You, as the US government look to Israel with respect. Cannot you do the same with the children of Syria?” –a Syrian woman speaking to Secretary Kerry at the Zaatari refugee camp

“If a regular Syrian comes and asks me what we have given him, I don’t know what to say,” –Ahmed, a rebel commander in Syria

“We are trying to host our brothers and sisters from across Syria with dignity and respect. But how can we feed hundreds of new families each day when we can barely feed ourselves?” –Ahmed al-Saad, a coordinator with the Local Coordination Committees, an activist network, in the border town of Tal Shihab

“Now we can neither return to Homs nor continue to Jordan. We have gone from refugees to prisoners. We Syrians have been left with two options: flee or die.” –Emad al-Homsawi, a Syrian who spent two weeks fleeing Homs

“Many nights I can’t sleep because the sound of fighting is so loud. There are more checkpoints than ever before, they now ask for your ID card and your mobile phone, which they then check for text messages, Facebook postings and photographs. We have more restrictions on our movements in Damascus than before, especially at night, there is more mortar fire into regime areas.” –a resident of the Mezzeh area of Damascus, home to Syrian regime loyalists

“Shiite militias forced us and all the other Sunni residents of my area to leave a few months ago, so all of my family left for Daraa, I moved to another part of Damascus because I have a job with the government and cannot afford to lose it. This Ramadan I miss those social ties, I’ve cried a few times because I’m away from my family, and it’s too dangerous to go to the mosque, even the one next to my house.” –Zyad, a 30-year-old Syrian engineer separated from his family

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  • Posted by lisa

    One more voice: Damascus is doomed. It’s leaders only consider maintaining power, no matter the loss of life. It’s people cannot see a future different from the past, else they would evacuate. The Syrian royalty’s reign will end at the cost of a great city. The greater region will be destroyed even worse than Dresden Germany in WWII.

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