Two years after the outbreak of the uprising in Syria, The Daily Star spoke to Syrians from different walks of life about how their opinions had changed over the course of the conflict and what their hopes were for the future.
I have faith that we will achieve our victory very soon after all the struggle the Syrian people have gone through, but at the same time it’s very difficult to set a time frame for the revolution to succeed, since the solution is dependent on external and international factors. Now I believe more than any other time that the Syrian will never live without freedom and dignity, and there will always be a revolution against inequality, injustice and corruption.
The international committee should get their act together and take a final decision to protect the Syrian people. There must be humanitarian intervention to stop all the killing that is taking place.
Assad will not be a part of any solution in the new Syria and he’ll need to be legally prosecuted.
Long-term activist with the Local Coordination Committees
My views have changed many times according to the rise of violence and crime. We wanted to fight corruption, for everyone to have an opportunity ... we wanted change, but in a peaceful way.
In the beginning, people of different beliefs were all getting involved.
At the beginning I didn’t think it would last so long because the regime is so powerful and militarily wise.
But later on, we learned that they will fight to the very last breath, and so the conflict will go on.
There is total destruction and innocent people are paying the price. I think we are heading for division of the country.
What the people want is not about the downfall of Assad, it’s about the change that we want to have, we should not head backward.
Destroying the country and the emigration of our people will not benefit anyone. We can’t provide intelligent solutions because no one is listening anymore; there is so much hatred.
Change is coming for sure but we are not sure where the country is going, and we can only hope for the best.
Student, 26, Beirut
Many Western politicians and observers expected the conflict to be over within a short time. This was a clear case of wishful thinking, completely overlooking the power and strength of the regime.More than a year and a half ago I indicated that I would not be surprised if the regime would be able to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Baath Party coming to power on March 8, 1963, which now is already behind us.
I was surprised by the level of violence and atrocities, as well as by the lack of vision of the regime that everything could be solved by violent suppression and intimidation of Syria’s citizens.
The best way out seems to be a peaceful dialogue. Not to even try would be a missed chance, and the alternative is just further bloodshed and loss of life. Only after dialogue has really failed, should alternative options be considered.
President Assad will fight for his life and that of his regime. He will not sign his own death warrant, but
he might step down in a constitutional way as a result
of elections.I am afraid that Syria will still suffer from violence, destruction and sectarian polarization and confrontation, unless dialogue is started. The extremist Islamist opposition groups are bound to continue their violent opposition.
Nikolaos Van Dam
Former ambassador and author of “The Struggle for Power in Syria,” Netherlands
I feel different on the second anniversary; sad that the destruction and killing machine has survived and is continuing such brutal and ugly acts. The only thought that comes to mind about the revolution at this point is that I haven’t done what I have to do to help make it a successful movement.
It’s a long process which I believe will take some time.
I feel suffocated witnessing all the human rights violations against my people; men, women, kids; I am also more motivated to continue what we have started ... we get it or die for it.
Life means nothing when someone burns all your connections to it: memories, people, places, freedom and rights.
Human rights worker, 25, Cairo
My views of the revolution have not changed over the last two years; I still believe that the revolution is the only way to get rid of the Assad regime – or like what happened in Iraq, through a military invasion.
I did not expect the conflict to last so long. But this conflict will last more years if there are no actions taken by the international community. We don’t have any other option. That said, we don’t need troops on the ground, we should have targeted military airstrikes.
And Assad should be accountable for all the crimes committed against the Syrian people.
Director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Washington, D.C.
I left Syria because of many reasons. There were security concerns ... and a conflict with my supervisor at work who supported the regime. And I could no longer carry out my work. I was tired from fearing detention, or kidnapping, or the continuous shelling. In the beginning I didn’t expect the conflict to last this long but afterward I started to realize that things are slow and it will take so much time – especially after seeing the slow development of the external Syrian opposition.
First I was fearing civil war. I am not a supporter of the armed revolution, nor am I against it. It is meant to be.
Recently I started to think that it seemed the regime was about to fall, but I am still not certain how much time is needed.
The opposition will push for negotiations but I think some pro-regime elements will remain. Several revolutions will rise up against them, and it will be many years before the country settles down.
Currently unemployed, 33, Beirut
In the beginning I supported the revolution, including the Free Syrian Army, because I thought they were the only way to finish this quickly. Now, I am a little bit confused about the Nusra Front.
A lot of the FSA groups are doing really well, especially in Homs, Aleppo and Deraa. They are still trying to liberate the communities, but there are other groups that are robbing people, or working for other aims.
Nusra is working for its own agenda and it is far from the aims of the revolution.
They are no longer helping; they are an obstacle to our freedom and our revolution.
I still support a military solution. There are more liberated areas now. ... It takes time to build a new system
The people working for a new system and the FSA will not stop now. Nothing can stop them.
Pharmacist, 29, Beirut