In a mini mart yesterday afternoon, a guy patiently waiting for me to stuff my cucumbers and other groceries into my bag and clear out of the way, pointed at my wristband with surprise. “I couldn’t wear that here,” he smiles. Aha, gut feeling confirmed: Syrian. Another man shows up, his brother, and we get chatting.
They now work at the construction site across the road but are from a Jabal al-Shaykh area village.
We sit and talk for a half hour, on Syria, on the lies and propaganda against Syria, and during our conversation they repeat the same things I’ve heard over and over again on how safe Syria formerly was, how the state provided for their most basic needs… and then some, and how from the beginning this was no revolution.
As I’ve already shared many similar statements from previous encounters with Syrians, I won’t re-utter every point. However, I wanted to give their voices a platform, so here is some of what we discussed. Since this was a casual discussion—though I did begin it by asking if I could share their words and views—and they preferred not to give their names (I can’t blame them; they still travel back to their village and risk encountering Nusra/ “FSA”/Daesh en route), I’ll call the older brother Abu Quneitra (the governorate they are from).
He lists off nearby villages and towns occupied by Jebhat al-Nusra. “Mazra’at Bayt Jinn, Jabatha , Masharah, Tel el Hara…First, it was Jaysh el Hor—shu hua, Jaysh el Horr? What is the FSA? Coming from Chechnya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi…Nusra, Da’esh, FSA, they’re all the same, they slaughter, they behead, they kidnap.”
In Syria he was a barber, but his main income came from his work in a Damascus restaurant. The fact that he couldn’t get from his southern village to Damascus without fearing being sniped at or abducted by one of the terrorist factions, and thus couldn’t access his prime source of income, is the reason he is in Lebanon, not Syria.
“If they saw me, a Druze, they’d slaughter me without question.”
On the other hand, they slaughter Sunnis when it suits them.
Abu Q says in their village (which he says is roughly 4000 people) at least 40 civilians have been martyred by the different terrorist factions’ mortars and snipings. He lists names; for whatever reason many women among them, of those killed by terrorist mortar blasts or bullets.
He notes that factions have repeatedly tried to take over the village but, they’ve fought back.
“Our resistance prevents them.”
To counter the outright lies of the MSM and talking heads, I usually try to ask the different Syrians I meet simple questions on the nature and cause of the “crisis” and whether it is a “revolution”.
Abu Q: “It’s all lies. They take money and kill Syrians on Israel’s behalf. When it started, we heard there were problems in Dara’a; we knew what happened to Iraq, Libya. We went to demonstrations in Damascus, in support of the state of Syria. Who went to protests in Dara’a and elsewhere? Not doctors, not lawyers, not educated… but uneducated people, many of whom took money…This idea was not from 4 years, but from many years before.”
He mentions one instance when at the border, having re-entered Lebanon.
“An attractive woman, with a UN id, came up to me. ‘Bonjour. Kieffek? How can I help you? If you want to register with the UN we’ll support you.’” He says he declined her invite for help and that the paperwork to “help” him included loaded anti-Syria questions, what he surmises were stipulations for receiving UN aid. “They want us to say we are against our President, they want to increase their numbers of registered refugees so they can get more money.” Whether the latter is the case or not (I wouldn’t be surprised), the former seems more than likely, part of the propaganda war against Syria.
He’s already done his army service, 10 years ago, but says, “If President al-Assad called for people like me to come back and serve in the army I would do so immediately.”
He refutes the sectarian slant MSM give to the Syrian army, “In the Syrian army, there’s no sectarianism, we’re all soldiers,” and laments the deaths of Syrian soldiers (again, in contrast to the boogeyman tale MSM spreads of Syrian civilians being terrorized by the army): “Those soldiers are ours sons, our brothers, our sisters….haram to kill them.”
Like most Syrians I’ve encountered or heard speak or read about, he distinguishes between American, western people, and our governments, noting the criminality of our governments towards Syria (ahem: Canada shamefully began bombing Syria today, as per the so-called coalition against Da’esh…In March, President al-Assad spoke to Russia media on the futility and lack of serious intent of the so-called coalition’s bombing of Da’esh areas vs the gains of the SAA:
“When you follow media reports on daily or weekly basis, you see that the rate of the airstrikes conducted by what they call a coalition against terrorism is sometimes less than ten strikes a day or a little more, in Syria or in Iraq, or in both Syria and Iraq. We are talking about a coalition which includes 60 countries, some of which are rich and advanced. On the other hand, the Syrian air force, which is very small in comparison to this coalition, conducts in a single day many times the number of the airstrikes conducted by a coalition which includes 60 countries.
Although you are not a military man, it is self evident that this doesn’t make sense. This shows the lack of seriousness. Maybe some of these countries do not want ISIS to grow larger than it has become in Syria and Iraq, but at the same time they don’t want to get rid of ISIS completely. They want to retain this terrorist force to be used as a threat to blackmail different countries. That’s why we say simply that there is no serious effort to fight terrorism, and what is being achieved by the Syrian forces on the ground equals in one day what is being achieved by these states in weeks. Once again, this shows that these countries are not serious, not only militarily, but politically speaking. An anti-terrorist coalition cannot consist of countries which are themselves supporters of terrorism.”).
[This is a point I think needs re-iterating: the MSM and western talking heads have ramped up such an anti-Arab, Islamophobic campaign of lies that I shudder to think what proportion of the US population (or Canada, Britain, France…) believe the lies and manufactured (racist) stereotypes of “those people over there” (here)….whereas, in the years I’ve spent in Palestine, and now my times in Syria, I could literally count on one hand the number of instances where I felt a blind dislike/distrust/hatred towards me representing the west. Note I put hatred at the end there, because I think I only encountered it once, during the 2008/9 zionist massacre of Gaza, when loved ones were mourning the murder by (never held accountable) CW attacks—the zionists’ use of white phosphorous all over Gaza, including shelters housing displaced, homes, and the again-bombed Wafa rehab hospital. In the moment of such pain and loss, I don’t in any way blame the man who sought an outlet for his grief. Hell, I was cursing the west for its unwavering support of so-called ‘israels’ genociding of Gaza…]
Abu Q’s parting message isn’t unique, I’ve heard the words countless times before: “We want the Syrian state to return to how it was and most importantly, President Assad will stay. We love Bashar al-Assad very much. Syria was wonderful, the state supported us in many ways (he rattles off the list: free education & health care, food and oil subsidies… ) Syria had security…Our country will win and return to how it was, and better. Souria samideen… Syria will remain steadfast.”