Sep 1, 2013

A Slice of Life in Damascus

Lara Setrakian

As part of our effort to highlight civilian stories, below is correspondence from Mohamed, a Syrian journalist based in Damascus.

A state of anticipation has spread among the people of the city, due to the apparent readiness of the West to launch a military strike against the Syrian regime.

People expected to wake up this morning to news about the targeting of the regime’s military bases and airports in Damascus, Aleppo and other provinces. The dominant discussion in the streets, shops and markets revolves around the U.S. military strike, and how officers belonging to the regime forces are escaping their positions by helicopter and across the Lebanese border.

People’s take on the U.S. military strike is not divided between its supporters and opposers, but rather between those who fear that the strike is going to be limited, and thus give the regime a chance to retaliate, and others who believe intervention will inevitably lead to the demise of the regime.

Electricity in the city is on for no more than six hours per day. When it does become available, you find that people use it to follow the news on television and charge battery-driven lamps and computers. In the event of a power outage, people try to communicate with the activists in the city, who follow the news on devices that connect to the internet through a satellite provider.

The exchange rate went from 200 Syrian pounds per U.S. dollar to 270 Syrian pounds per dollar, hours after the news of the [potential] attack from the West against the regime. The price list of vegetables on market stalls increased due to the new exchange rate as well. People are worried about the low purchasing power of the Syrian pound and the prices of basic goods such as bread, sugar and children’s milk. All of this is a direct effect of the news of a possible military strike against the regime forces.

The situation does not differ much for doctors and activists working in the mobile medical relief point, in terms of preparations. They believe, according to one of the doctors, that they have to store medication, injections and all needed suppplies because the regime will inevitably take strong revenge.

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