mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Assad Dreams as Damascus Sleeps

Syria could be next in the Arab Spring, but judging from life in Damascus, you wouldn’t guess it. The NYT explains:

DAMASCUS, Syria — As protests broke out across a restive Syria on a recent Sunday, and crowds were dispersed yet again by gunfire that left many dead, the conversation in the capital dwelled not on the uprising but rather on nails, along with the choice of polish and hair color and the latest in makeup trends.

“I want either fuchsia or orange to match my dress,” a woman in her 50s said as she rummaged through a box of nail polish in an upscale beauty salon in Damascus. “Either one.”

It does not take long to realize that there is a disconnect between Damascus and the rest of Syria. With a mix of denial and fear, and occasionally even satisfaction at the government’s determination to stanch dissent, many Damascenes insist on another reality.

Regular VM readers know that this has been our view for some time: As long as Damascus stays placid, expect Bashar al-Assad to remain in power. The city is essential to Assad’s government infrastructure – physical, financial and technological.

There are a few sporadic protests, but the majority of Damascenes seem content – or at least acquiescent – with state-run news headlines. Until the city comes into play, Assad’s forces seem able to manage the revolt.

The international community hopes that Damascus will be the new Jericho.  Just as Jericho fell to the ancient Hebrews after their army marched around the walls seven times blowing their trumpets, the west and many Arabs hope that sanctions and expressions of disdain will bring the walls around Damascus down.

There is no sign of this happening yet, but who knows?  A few more marches, a few more trumpets and things could change.  Perhaps we should add nail polish to the list of targeted sanctions.

Features Icon
show comments
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service