As the Syrian conflict rumbles on, grassroots narratives abound, heart-breaking, compelling and insightful by turn.
If you must read but one (to start or even for today), let it be Yassin al-Haj Saleh‘s interview with Abu Qusay, a tailor from al-Ghizlaniya who traded in his scissors and tape for the tools of revolution.
Starting in early 2011 amid street protests, Abu Qusay’s account charts the acceleration of violence and mortality, as well as the shift in tempo and focus of the fighting.
A particularly poignant observation is the lack of dedication to the primary objective of the uprising:
Since the start of this year things have started to stagnate. People are in pursuit of slogans and financiers; every wise guy is out to make a name of himself, forgetting that Bashar is not gone yet. The whole thing is so long and drawn-out, life is expensive, food and ammunition are scarce, and some groups now swear their allegiance to outside forces; to Saudi Arabia, to Qatar, and to Kuwait.
The current death toll stands at over 100,000, with over 1,548 foreign civilians killed.
Over 3,000,000 Syrians have been displaced, more than 1,204,707 are currently registered as refugees and over 130,000 are ‘missing’.
The factions multiply and loyalties are placed along ambiguous lines, but for folks such as Abu Qusay, the reason for taking up arms and continuing to do so after almost two and a half years remains the same – uncomfortable, yet necessary:
We took to the streets precisely because we are against power-hungry despots. We want to be normal, and a quarter of the people are like us. It is true that some opposed the regime because they were after power and political positions, but there are many noble people out there, and they will no-doubt prevail.