What can I say, dear friend? If I could only see the slightest possibility of popular agitation against the regime, I would never leave the country, and would Khawla herself, for all her worries and angst will back me on this. But continued popular apathy combined with the impotence of opposition and dissident groups make such a prospect highly unlikely.
The attitude of our taxi drivers is the measuring stick I usually use in this regard. Several taxi-drivers I encountered in the last few days have already expressed extreme annoyance with the government regarding espousing causes that are “bigger than we are,” including our “support” throughout the years for the Palestinians and Lebanese, and now the Iraqis. “Where did all this get us?” The brave drivers wondered. Corruption is rampant, prices of basic goods are soaring, unemployment is widespread, the educational systems are imploding, and we are hated by just about everybody, in the region and abroad. Still, “would you join an anti-government demonstration?” I asked. But “this is not Lebanon,” I was reminded, the assholes over here are willing to destroy every house in every city rather than give up power.
Indeed, the only possible scenarios in Syria today are:
* A purge by the Presidential Family to help them stay in power and avoid any potential sedition related to the impending withdrawal from Lebanon or impending international sanctions as a result of not-withdrawing (hence the recent promotion of the brother-in-law making him in charge of all military intelligence).
** Assassinating the President as the most logical fall-guy, in the hope of stirring the mix a little bit, and create a new sense of dynamics, which, whether violence or not, could eventually pave the way for a faster “recovery” from all set-backs.
*** The emergence of a fifth column which will most assuredly seek US support to overthrow the current leaders, seeing that the gun-power is on their side. Believe it or not, the Fifth Column here will most likely be made up of certain Old Guard figures, Sunnis and ‘Alawis alike, who are rumored to be extremely upset with the President’s handling of the country’s foreign affairs. Indeed, we have to note here that we can no longer live under the old assumption that Old Guard are to blame for the country’s stalemate. Indeed, it now seems that the New Guard, the President included, are more to blame.
Can you see then, my friend, why Khawla and I have decided to leave? This country is about to implode, and we cannot afford to be caught up in this. We will be among the first people to be targeted in the upcoming mayhem: we are secular, liberal, Americanized and have all these “dubious” connections with all these “dubious” figures and organizations. What used to be helpful for us before, will soon turn against us. The magic has turned against the magician, as some had put it.
So, and while some of my fellow dissidents are hopeful on account of the ongoing developments in Lebanon, I cannot see but portents of doom. (Note: these very people were hopeful too when the President came to power. I was mostly skeptical then too, but I was willing to believe nonetheless, or, rather, to work against my own cynicism, to test the waters, to give it a try, but I thought the “we” in “me” was worse the shot).
Still, I challenged my friends to give me one reason to be optimistic on the basis of internal developments. They couldn’t. They couldn’t.
We are in rigor mortis here, my friend, and our decaying souls are poisoning the very soil we long held sacred. Nothing good will come out of here for decades. Nothing. Not even a successful regime change will give me hope, unless it were peaceful. For violence will only beget violence and the sectarian black hole will suck us all in. I wouldn’t want that for us.
So, yes, indeed, I am serious about leaving. I have no idea how yet, and I have no idea where. Anywhere but here seems like an acceptable motto. Or should I dare hope for hope itself and say: anywhere where hop can still thrive?
The worst thing in all this, though, is the sense of deep shame that feels like an unrelenting choking sensation that cripples my mind and soul. I was so hopeful for a while, not too long ago, so cocky, so sure of myself. But I was blind then, wasn’t I? For that, I almost run roughshod over all the people I love. But no. I need to get them out of here. I owe them that much. That’s understandable, isn’t it?