Journalists have a habit of placing the word "liberated" in quotation marks, as in "so-called-liberated", or "not-really-liberated-but-they-say-so" liberated. This is far from the truth. On the ground, liberation is an important part of daily life. The town is free of street warfare, snipers, and shabiha (pro-regime militia). Free of arrest and intimidation. In Salqeen, citizens are able to focus on other aspects of civic life, such as forming the civil counsels and local committees that are dedicated to cleaning the streets and organising local elections. Liberated means that you can live almost without fear. Your only fear is that bombs will drop on you. As one activist told me, "If you're killed by a bomb falling from the sky, you must be very unlucky." Another popular belief was the indisputable, "No one dies before his time."A great account by Amal Hanano of her recent trip into Syria. I liked this paragraph in particular because it highlighted the disconnect between the words used to describe what's happening in Syria and the daily reality of the people most affected by it.
On another note, I've often wondered at why the coastal cities have remained so quiet since the start of the conflict, but it's starting to seem like this will be changing soon:
"But we must get it together. We just must," the rebel leader finally piped up. "You in the west ask us why it is going like this and then you refuse to help us. Latakia is a price worth paying. There is no way Bashar can win the war if he loses there."
We spoke by phone to a merchant in Latakia on Saturday. He runs restaurants on the coastline and an import business through the nearby port. "Jet skis are on the ocean and people are smoking [water pipes]," he said. "Yes, there are planes and bombs in the distance. But for now it's our new reality. We are getting used to it. If they get any closer, we'll leave."