I visited Syria for a couple of weeks in 1995 and based on what i read and hear very little in the basic problems and cultural issues have changed.
This is just a lead in to other short videos I hope to do on Syria, particularly the Syrian army. Because of my limited internet knowledge I have to keep the videos very short and there is much more I could add to the videos but anything much over 4 minutes is difficult to download and put on word press.
One thing I want to emphasize is the death like atmosphere in Hamah and Homs. Both had taken a terrible beating in the 1982 when the Syrian army put down a rebellion by the Brotherhood. ( Here you will usually see Western histories of Syria inserting the word “brutal”) , but it was typical of the Arab methods of destroying an insurrection. The scars of massive destruction were still there. The Muslim Brotherhood was crushed but the society remained under the social yoke of Fundametalist Islam. But a having visited other parts of the Arab world repressed by fundamentalist Islam, I found the same somber, unhappy atmosphere. In fact the irony is that this repressive Islamist movement is inimical to the Arab culture of a buoyant, often ebullient society, loving music and dance, and free animated conversation. That is always missing in s fundamentalist environment. I shall always remember the sour faces and constipated facial expressions. Very rare in Arab society, at least in those days.
The danger of supremacist Islam is often overlooked with the emphasis being on more violent organizations. But make no mistake about it. The Muslim Brotherhood and their fellow travelers, many among ignorant Western academics, is a danger wherever it exists.
Damascus was very different, with excellent restaurants and a lively night life. As long as you understood that you were in an authoritarian dictatorship with a number of omnipotent, omnipresent security services, alway sniffing around to find anti Assad sentiment, and you lived your life understanding that, you could live relatively safely. The old Arab proverb , “Blessed is the man with a beautiful wife and whom the sultan does not know,” In other words keep your mouth shut and stay out of the limelight.