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New Republic Report: "Incredible" -- October 25, 2016

------------- "​Incredible" Republic Update Monday October 24, 2016 ​-------------​ OK, so your much prayed for RV is ti...

Friday, March 4, 2016

Syrian Diary -- Chapter 10: The Driver of Assad

(Andrea Cucco, Giampiero Venturi)

Syria is a box with five doors. For now, only one remains: the easiest and friend; one that leads to Beirut. We go out from Syria, Lebanon direction.

The Syrians regard Lebanon the home garden. It's an idea, maybe abuse, perhaps a desire, but a collective iconography is a common image. To us Westerners care little hasty. Taken from a practical sense, we look at not more snowy hills that lead over the Bekaa Valley, to Beirut, to the sea, to return to life.

It's the last day and takes us Bassam. He is 54 years old and makes the driver, often right between Damascus and the Lebanese capital.

Shortly after crossing the border, we stop at a roadside café. He speaks good English because in his life he did everything, even the sailor. For Italy he knows more than other major ports.

Bassam has a lot of life experience and knows a lot of things. Today he lives in a suburb of the capital, a haunted for years by terrorists zone.

When we ask why do not I ever went the answer is simple and makes us feel stupid.

"If they'd gone out they ransacked the house."

He lived this way for years under the bombs, in the basement with family.

From her story emerges a new line of "moderate rebels" (as we call them Westerners wise ...) that we had not heard: the Chechens. Cruel and ruthless beings from red beard. They were missing their right ...

Certainly before the war life was supposed to be easy for even the less well off: it tells us that with $ 50 you could support a family with children. Now there are enough 200. There were no poverty and begging. Was the Baathist system.

Bassam for the disaster began with the discovery of huge gas fields off the Syrian coast.

"What the fuck is this country in the middle? Must be eliminated! "They would have said Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Bassam s'infervora with his own words. You decided. Sa to represent millions of Syrians who think like him. He continues his argument by saying that "the goal is not Assad. They could eliminate it whenever they wanted. The goal is Syria itself ... "

Despite all optimistic "In a few months the war will end."

After drinking coffee, talking without looking, and with a half smile, he remembers when Saddam Hussein a reporter asked who was the best guide for the Arab world:

"Hafez Assad! - He would have answered the Baghdad misunderstood - But I should make the defense minister ... ". Saddam was a dictator but a wise man and a great irony. Bassam speaks of the Arab world with a touch of melancholy and regret. As if many things were now lost forever.

He is a tough man, of those who do not flinch when the country calls.

"I fought in Lebanon in '84. I was a gunner on a T-55. During the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait I spent 8 months in service as a reservist in Homs ".

We ask why has not enlisted again to the war today. With a hint of despair he tells us that immediately made him "but they said I was older ..."

He is an experienced soldier. The weapons you saw in the hands of terrorists have surprised him: foreign and technologically advanced weapons.

"If in the towns in rebel hands there was not the population the army could intervene freely. There are still where I live. Few hundred terrorists held hostage thousands of people who do not want to let him plunder their goods "

We wonder why we can not do anything. The answer is clear.

"The population indicates the army when and where you group. Then comes a bomb ... "

"Syria will come back more beautiful than before!" - He says convinced. "The pacification of the signal is the number of investors who are coming into the country. Every day new ones arrive. "

As a driver is definitely a reliable source for assessing the trend of foreigners coming but his words remain somewhere between reality and wishes.

We ask if Assad, according to him, has not stalled for too long (I think many in the country) before working.

"Assad has hesitated because it was a clear trap: they accused him for any action by invoking human rights."

We must start again. On the hills between Lebanon and Syria exudes a strange crisp air. Some evergreen trees remind us that the Mediterranean is near. We are instead to feel distant from the sufferings of Bassam and its people ...

In silence we take a picture of a coffee cup. He intrigued questions us and smiling replies:

"The photo you need to do to me and publish it. I love my country and I love my President. When long ago there were elections and marchiavano your finger in ink to polling stations, even in an area occupied by the terrorists went with my whole family to vote. I do not fear them! "

We continue to descend towards the west, leaving behind an incredible country kept quiet by all.

Go away it costs us a lot.

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