Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

To Strike or Not to Strike? in Syria, I Cry for Intervention. in Exile, I'm Not So Sure

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

To Strike or Not to Strike? in Syria, I Cry for Intervention. in Exile, I'm Not So Sure

Article excerpt

I am two women. They stand head to head, at loggerheads.

The revolutionary in me joined what started as peaceful demonstrations against the Syrian government in March 2011.

The novelist in me fled to France that July.

The revolutionary, who has several times since then furtively crossed the border back into her country, is steeped in the smell of blood. She wipes the dust off the corpses of children disfigured by violence, stops to wring out her heart, then carries on.

The novelist struggles to close her eyes to the atrocities: She can't take any more. She begs the revolutionary to stop walking through Syria's circles of hell.

But the other voice rebukes her: "It is up to you to step into this hell, to bear witness to it, darling novelist. It is up to you to work against all that is dark and violent, everything that is leading your country to ruin."

The novelist, living in exile, in the world of politicians and diplomats, far removed from falling shells and sudden death, wonders whether Syria should be hesitant about welcoming military strikes from the West. She argues that no country has the right to interfere in the affairs of another, that independence and national sovereignty are sacred. And she questions whether hitting military targets without taking down President Bashar Assad, especially while Russia and Iran continue to support him, will bring a shift from the inhumanity that the regime has imposed.

The revolutionary, moving among guerilla fighters and civilian activists, stands by those who are living under the regime's bombardment and dying at the hands of its military machine. She argues that sovereignty shouldn't mean the freedom to kill one's own people, to displace them or to force a sectarian wedge between them. She notes that the soldiers she overheard speaking Farsi when the rural town of Haish was annihilated were evidence that international intervention happened long ago. She adds that Syria is not the Assad regime. Syria is the Syrian people.

The novelist looks on with bewilderment at the religious extremism of certain groups supposedly representing the opposition: preventing women from going out in public, carrying out arrests, threats and killings, all in the name of Islam. …

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