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I’m gonna keep this brief. My mom visited Syria 6 weeks ago. These were her observations. I’ve been putting this off for long.
An extra perspective never hurts:
Transiting from Beirut to Damascus:
Unlike previous trips, border guards were professional. No bribery. Easy crossing. There are direct orders from the President’s office to make travel into Syria through border convenient to encourage Syrian expats & refugees to come back.
There is an influx of internally displaced refugees in Damascus. Our neighborhood Barzeh has many new people from Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. Damascus is visibly over populated, and the municipality is struggling to cope. Streets are dirty.
I asked her if she noticed any more Iranians than usual. She said there were many in the Umayyad Mosque. Though, that was always the case because it’s a pilgrimage site for Shias in general. Nothing straying from the baseline.
Less checkpoints in Damascus. City much more secure. No more shelling. People feeling much safer. She also mentioned how the electricity supply was more consistent than anytime before.
On her way to her home in Hama, she went through Homs. Thanks to the reopenening of Rastan Dam, trip was very short. Not many checkpoints. She was saddened by what she saw in Homs. Half the city was destroyed. The other half was in pristine condition, seemingly unaffected by war.
Hama on the other hand was in great condition. The war didn’t take any toll on the city in almost any capacity. The city was clean. Electricity supply abundant. Many project in and around the city. Some refugees from Idlib and the Hama countryside.
People are very happy with the governor Assad appointed. Hama has special treatment from 2011 when the gov’t made a special deal with the Hama elders to avoid a catastrophe like 1982. City was kept neutral from the war and preserved.
Going back to Damascus, forgot to mention there are several big construction projects (towers) ongoing around Maliha area. Lots of talk about big money pouring into country from expat investors. Some talk about imminent involvement of investors from UAE/other gulf countries.
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