All the recent happenings in
Until yesterday, I had only noticed one change in
Then, last night, we returned from a short vacation in Latakia. At first,
At a particularly long pause at a stoplight, I focused my attention on one billboard that featured a stylized painting of the Syrian flag. As I worked my way through the Arabic words at the bottom, I realized that I could understand the whole sentence. It said, “We are all with you, Bashar Al-Assad” (Bashar is the president). I turned to Jeremy to point it out to him, but before I could explain, I noticed yet another billboard on the other side of the street, this one featuring a picture of the president with his arm raised, fist clenched. Under a quote from his speech given to parliament last Saturday (the same speech that was called “evasive” and a “non-response” by Western leaders) was almost the same phrase: “We are all with you, our sovereign president.” By the time we reached our home, I had seen dozens of billboards sporting at least six different variations of the same theme. If we can get pictures of them, I’ll post them here.
Also last night, we received an email from the embassy warden informing us of a patriotic rally in support of the president taking place at the Jelatt Stadium at on Wednesday (today). This stadium is just a kilometer up the road from us. At about 10.30 at night, a car with a loudspeaker on top drove up and down the main street outside our house, advertising this same rally. We heard announcement again at about this morning.
Now as I sit here writing this, at , I can hear drums beating and people chanting in the streets. A few minutes ago, as crowds were making their way up our street to the rally, I snuck outside to take some video footage. I crossed the street to a relatively inconspicuous vantage point and managed to record a few seconds of people holding flags marching up the street. I also saw cars with giant pictures of Bashar pasted on the hood. A lot of cars have smaller pictures of him in their rear windows anyway, but these were special edition photos just for this occasion. There were Suzuki vans driving by with young men waving flags packed in the back. As I walked back inside, I noticed some neighborhood children observing the scene from their balcony. They were mimicking the crowd, chanting along with them.
It’s fascinating to be living here and see the patriotic backlash this Syria-Lebanon issue has inspired in this country, or at least appeared to inspire. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.