Readers begin to appreciate what, and how much, they do not know. If this is Yazbek’s work between just March and July of 2011, how many bookshelves could the Syrian story fill? We feel awake splashing our face daily in water – we feel we have caught up having read the news. But every day we learn nothing further, nothing more – the water splashes skin deep. Yazbek’s book tattoos the mind.
Although a new generation of Sunni businessmen emerged as others left the country in the wake of the uprising in 2011, the complex network of relations between the power elite, and fractions of the Sunni bourgeoisie, has remained part of the regime’s tools to dominate society and build loyalties among this sector.
Notwithstanding the overload of photographs especially through social media, there has in recent years also been a growing use of illustration to raise awareness, inform audiences and to tell stories.
Their presence is renowned but rarely witnessed. You hear a lot about their role in the news and from friends who witnessed the tragedies they have caused in the country. Yet regardless of where you stand politically, the mixed feelings they evoke in you as a civilian in Syria are still ambiguous: Russian soldiers.
Perspectives on the Russian soldiers in Al-Waer neighborhood, west of Homs, vary between welcoming them on the one hand, judging by their good treatment of residents compared to the regime’s soldiers and allied Shiite militants, and the absolute rejection of their presence on the other.
Before the revolution, Khalifa sometimes had regrets about writing ‘The Shell’. But since then, “the revolution has obligated the regime to show off all the barbarism, without restriction, in front of the cameras.” And when “young readers […] told me very clearly that what prompted them to take part in the uprising against the dictatorship had been […] reading ‘The Shell’, my fears and troubled faded into the background. It was a relief.”
Syrian citizens are fleeing from their war-torn homeland, and some of them have chosen Russia as their country of asylum. But life for them here is also a struggle.
Most Syrian residents do not use the word “occupation” to describe the Russian presence in their homeland, and some traders even benefit economically from it.