But if it makes Syrian expats feel any better, obtaining a passport from within Syria itself is by no means an easy affair these days. The regime’s favorite propaganda line has always been that “the conspiracy” will soon be crushed, that the Syrian people are optimistically behind the state, and that a knockout blow is just around the corner.
Well, a visit to any one of the few passport departments still operating, and witnessing the crush of applications for travel documents, makes it very evident that regardless what the regime itself believes, the Syrian people are less than confident that their self interests would be best served by remaining in the country.
Well, let’s take this viewpoint to its logical conclusion. Let us, based on the regime’s actions and behavior in areas it has reoccupied during the conflict, areas like Homs, Hama, Idlib, Telkelakh, Daraya, and its treatment of the people in those areas, see if we can deduce what another 30 years under Assad would be like in a post-conflict Syria.
As the conflict in Syria dragged on, and the initially peaceful revolution turned increasingly into a bitter and horrific civil war, we started to see more and more activists bemoan the militarization of the revolution, and the dominant role taken on by hardline extremist Islamist groups such as Jabhat Al Nasra and the ISIS (no, not the Archer ISIS, this ISIS, The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham). Some even went so far as to call the revolution a mistake, and openly pine for the days of life under the brutal dictatorship of the Assads.
An article in today’s New York Times pretty much confirmed what many observers of events in Syria and the Middle East, had been suspecting since Obama’s backing down from his self defined “chemical weapons red lines”; the present American administration has reconciled itself to Bashar Assad’s continued rule over Syria, and the preservation of the Hizbollah-Assadist-Iraq-Iran axis. America has abandoned any thought to forcing the removal of this century’s bloodiest tyrant from power. It has willingly accepted a great diminishing of its influence and prestige in the region, in a desperate desire to avoid any sort of confrontation with the region’s more resilient powers.
The reality is that the Syrian revolution, which gambled so heavily on outside support, cannot continue in its present form, if it is to continue at all. Lessons must be learned from past mistakes and miscalculations. If Syrians are never destined to wrestle their freedom from a brutal tyranny, at least the mistakes Syrian society made over the past three years can be a lesson to other societies, if and when those societies ever get the chance to win their own freedoms.
A few days ago, I had to break my doctor ordered bed confinement to send a Western Union money transfer to a relative. It got me thinking of my experiences with Western Union in three different countries; Turkey (what you’d expect), Lebanon (a remittance junkie’s paradise), and Syria (to stand in a Western Union agent’s office in Syria, is to witness a human tragedy).
This morning a friend commented that it was a good thing I was in Turkey when I discovered my spine problem, and not in Syria. I agree. As I left things in Tartous, I’m not sure I could have gotten the full care I’d have needed.
Not that there aren’t any qualified doctors in Tartous. Just the opposite. The war has caused alot of consultants and specialists to move to Tartous from Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Damascus and their surrounding rural areas. Al-Thawra street must have the world’s highest concentration of medical specialists and clinics of any specialization. But above and beyond a consultation, there just isn’t available the means for prolonged and long term care.
It’s all very well and good for a doctor to tell me to immediately take a few weeks off and stay in bed (and to make sure my back is never inclined at more than 30 degrees) to allow my body time to heal. But one does not confine oneself to bed cold-turkey. Preparations must be made. And in Istanbul, all the walking around making those preparations probably meant an extra week in bed for me.