syriablog2

Dear Britain,

Before what was called the 'Arab Spring' back in 2011, I was, like many of my friends, an ordinary Syrian wife and mother of two children, living happily and comfortably in a smart suburban area of Damascus.

I was not particularly interested in politics, and content to get on with my life as a teacher and my responsibilities with a Christian charity I was involved with.

Life was secure and the country was relatively stable under the leadership of our President Bashar Al- Assad and his Baathist party.

In fact since the Baathist party had been in power, my country had enjoyed a form of secular government which provided basic freedoms (freedom of religion and freedom for women included) we had come to take for granted.

Our government was not perfect, but given our context of living in the Middle East (and compared to the Gulf states) we really had a lot to be thankful for.

Everything changed with the 'Arab Spring' which is what we learned the western media had called it.

Calls for change and more democracy, which initially sounded appealing, seemed to be coming less from those who genuinely believed in change for the good, and instead from those who wanted change for their own evil agendas. The Arab Spring was hijacked by these people. Demonstrations quickly became run by those who had such agendas and who did much worse than just cursing our Syrian government.

The demonstrations became sectarian and not only against those of other religions, but against moderate secular minded Sunni Muslims too.

They also became armed and used violence against the authorities. They used armed gangs to kill innocent people in the streets. I witnessed them stopping buses and making government employees get out. They killed them in front of me. It was brutal and horrible.

They were well organised because the young men demonstrating carried mobile phones to take videos of their chanting against our government, which were sent to the TV offices of Al-Jazeera (which is owned by Qatar), to make it look as though they were just protesting for change and revolution. They always hid from their cameras the terrible killings they carried out.

Forced to leave

I realised that this was not a peoples' revolution (as was being portrayed to the outside world) but an attempt to overthrow our state and our very way of life by outside forces who wanted a fundamentalist society in Syria.

I saw how scenarios were fabricated, so that it would look as though the Syrian government were oppressing its own people. This was presented to the world's media. But the truth was hidden. The truth was the real oppressors were those causing the unrest.

The time came when the strength and brutality of these 'rebels' enabled them to control large parts of Damascus, my home city.

The Arab Spring was hijacked

Fear and destruction started to enter our homes, and I will never forget that fateful day when the rebels forced me to leave my lovely house in a suburb of Damascus. It has now been taken over by insurgents. It broke my heart, but I was determined not to give in, and fled to downtown Damascus, where my family now rents a house.

What happened with me, and with this conflict generally, has made me more attached to my country and more committed to defend it and our way of life.

As a Christian I am very aware that ancient Syria encompassed the four countries of the former Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, so historically we have an immense Christian heritage. Christians make up nearly 10 per cent of the current Syrian population and we have no desire to leave our country and every desire to return it to its former great self.

We feel aggrieved that up until recently, we have been grossly misrepresented in the outside world, and that the outside world has not cared about our fate. The outside world has even been courted by the fundamentalist rebels to support their cause.

How the UK can help 

We now feel hope, as we have had support from the Christian country of Russia, and from others. We feel hope, too, that after years of the UK government supporting the opposition, that now three former British Ambassadors to Syria have publicly stated that British policy towards Syria has been a huge mistake and has made matters a lot worse.

We pray that in this new year of 2017, steps will be taken to end our conflict and for the rebels to be finally defeated.

For their own reasons, countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have spent huge sums of money supporting the insurgents in our country. They never take any refugees though, from the results of the conflict they have helped to cause.

Other countries such as the USA have spent money directly or indirectly helping the insurgents. We are hopeful that the new American President will change policy towards our country and will also take steps to end the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

We appeal to the British government to change its policy, to drop any support for the Syrian "opposition" and to repair the damage caused over the last few years by establishing a new rapport with our Syrian government

Now is the time to stop the war in Syria. We have suffered enough, with immense damage done to our country. 

We have been in a war situation for longer than the length of the Second World War. We know that when the British people were suffering from the effects of that war, they exhibited stoicism and determination to pull though. We feel that the British people will understand our plight and have sympathy with it now.

We appeal to the British government to change its policy, to drop any support for the Syrian "opposition" and to repair the damage caused over the last few years by establishing a new rapport with our Syrian government to rebuild a new strong and revitalised Syria, who would be the strongest of allies against extreme fundamentalist terrorism.

With such a new policy, there will no longer be any need for Syrians to be refugees in the UK, as they will be safe and welcome back in Syria. Now is the time for Britain, with a new Prime Minister, to take this step of working with the Syrian government.

Instead of aid being spent just on Syrians in refugee camps in the region, now is the time for the many displaced persons in our country to be considered for help, as there is no UK government help for those in government areas (which is most of the Syrian population).

There is currently a truce with the insurgents backed by Turkey, and the other insurgents are currently on the back foot with the Syrian Army on the offensive, and ISIS  on the retreat with Syrian, Kurdish and other military powers united in defeating them at last.

Our nightmare could be about to be over, and I hope the British government will help speed up this process. It is what I pray for, because I want a future for my children and my husband to all have a safe, secure, prosperous and happy future.

Elaina Nana is a Christian Syrian teacher and mother, living in Damascus

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