As US lawmakers set to debate military action, a splintered Damascus holds its breath

by Karlos Zurutuza

ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan – “Life is almost normal in the center of Damascus,” local resident Hisham says from the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Bab Touma. “Only the occasional noise of artillery on the outskirts reminds me that we are at war.”

The sound of artillery is now normal in Damascus. Hisham tells IPS on the phone from Damascus of the constant jams “due to the tight security measures” as well as increases in the price of food and fuel. But shops are still well stocked in his district, he says. This is an area where President Bashar al-Assad and his late father and former President Hafez al-Assad still fight for hegemony, which is depicted in street murals, on car windshields and even as souvenirs.

“An eventual attack will not favor any of the foreign countries’ interests. It will only bring destruction to the Syrian people… The situation on the ground is very complex, and we badly need a peaceful solution.” –Hani Hosam, Syrian in Saida Zainb

“I feel like I’m living in some kind of golden cage: I go to the gym every day after work, I hang out with friends in the same places… But I know that just a mile away people struggle to survive in the worst conditions.” Like many in Damascus Hisham gave only his first name due to security concerns.

Continue Reading…http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/09/03