In 2002 I visited Syria on a 6 weeks trip through the Middle East. At the arrival in Damascus I immediately recognized the atmosphere I knew well from my travels to East European countries during communism. Damascus had the feeling of Budapest or Prague in the early 80’s. The first night on a roof terrace café I was informally interrogated by a few suspicious plainclothes policemen.
The Assad family was still reigning with iron fist. Nobody ever mentioned politics. Exept from the demonstrators I met at several occasions where there were rallies organized by the government in favor of Assad. At these rally’s there where also carried slogans in favor of Hezbollah and against Israel.
At the time I wondered if ever in Syria could happen what had happened in the totalitarian societies in East Europe. Now it happens. But it takes long, too long and it is a very bloody transition. And what the result will be is not as clear as it was in for example Poland or Hungary.
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