There’s a reason I did not see the revolution in Syria coming. In many ways, I was isolated from the experiences of your everyday Syrian. Living in the capital, hanging out with the children of doctors, artists and varied intelligentsia, I was far removed from the simple life of a Syrian in a rural Arab community. The spark that ignited the fire occurred in the small town of Dara’aa back in March 2011, when a young child was brutally murdered by members of the secret police for painting anti-government slogans on a wall.
From that simple act of evil spread a wildfire, a flame stoked by the discontent of the masses. For a while the unrest remained in rural areas.
For my friends and family, the uncertainty and fear simmered around them as they tried to maintain lives of normalcy in the last year and a half. When Barbara Walters visited the capital for her interview with President Assad back in December, she was surprised at the appearance of normalcy in everyday life, people hanging out in cafes, smoking their cigarettes. But it was only a matter of time. (I am not going to waste any time discussing the interview because I don’t want to grant it any legitimacy. It was just a mealy-mouthed man lying through his teeth for forty-five minutes.)
I recently spoke with a friend from Damascus. He will remain unnamed for his safety. He says he was walking down the street near a demonstration when government troops opened fire. A stray bullet hit his leg. He told me a month later he called BBC to “expose their lies.” Within two hours the Secret Police traced his phone and were banging on his door. He says he was taken into custody and beaten. He now lives outside the country and fears for the well-being of his family still in Damascus.
In “The Anatomy of Revolution,” Charles Brinton discusses how revolution inevitably affects the life of every citizen and “politics becomes as real, as pressing, as unavoidable … as food and drink,” their “job, and the weather” (p. 177).
Having seen war firsthand in Iraq, I hoped my friends and family would not be touched by its misery. Unfortunately, all of the evidence points to a simple fact. There will be much bloodshed before Bashar Assad and his cronies capitulate.