I first entered Syria in August of 1969 as an embedded combat-journalist w/Yasser Arafat’s Al Fat’h, the Palestinian National Liberation Movement. Thru 1969, ’70 and ’71, I spent considerable time in Syria covering their military, Palestinian refugee centers, training camps, the Damascus nightclub scene, and the conflict/war fronts in Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. (Yeah, journalists also party down…)
What few Americans realize is how modern and secular Syria was. A former colony of the French, the native populations successfully resisted Vichy (pro-fascist) French rule at the conclusion of WW-II. (One of their first allies in 1946 was the Soviet Union, and Russia remains so today.)
The Assads came to power in 1970, so I witnessed the transition from a coup-ridden state (at one point embedded with the Syrian military) to a stable federation of disparate peoples and tribes throughout that vast region. The closest parallel I find to Assad is Marshall Tito of “Yugoslavia,” another disparate federation that when broken, dissolved into chaotic and murderous conflict. (This, is unfortunately what the Corp-US strategy–regime change thru constant conflict–has largely adopted over the past 15+yrs.)
When I ran across the following message from Hawaii state rep, Tulsi Gabbard, in my e-mail box, I was touched by this letter from a former citizen of Syria, and Tulsi Gabbard’s foresight and bravery in traveling herself to Syria to witness the situation there first hand. I will be following closely that journey from here on in.