Hoppa till huvudinnehåll

"The extremists took over quickly"

When the demonstrations in Syria began in March 2011 the English teacher Aliaa Mahfouz Ali was positive. She thought that they could bring something good. But soon she became aware of the fundamentalist forces that dominated the protest movement, which has since then terrorized Syria.

Aliaa Mahfouz Ali is 27 years old and lives in the small town of Jableh at the Syrian Mediterranean coast. She is an English Teacher and works at the University of Aleppo. Though that is a job that she can no longer perform.

– I can’t go there because the road to Aleppo is so dangerous and full of armed gangs who would happily behead me because of my ethnic or religious background, says Aliaa Mahfouz Ali.

Proletären takes contact with Aliaa Mahfouz Ali after she was interviewed by the New York Times. Her report is important because it contradicts the official account given by both Swedish media and the Syrian opposition.

• Tell about what happened in the spring 2011, when the protests in Syria began.
– During the first demonstrations I, like many other people, thought that this movement might be for the good of the country. I did not participate in the demonstrations, but some of my friends did, responds Aliaa Mahfouz Ali.

– But the slogans of democracy and freedom, fight against corruption and other demands for better living conditions were nothing more than a curtain camouflaging the true intentions. In the beginning it was difficult to see what was really going on. But soon the religious extremists took over and pulled the mask of the demands for democracy and reform.

In Sweden and other Western countries it is claimed that the armed uprising against the government of Syria was a reaction to several months of violent repression against peaceful protests. It is a description of reality that Aliaa Mahfouz Ali do not agree with. From the very beginning there were many armed actions in which people were killed. On April 10 2011, she witnessed one of these acts of violence by opposition forces who had taken up arms.

– I was in traffic on the coastal road near the city of Banias when I heard loud explosions and gunfire that lasted for several minutes. I also heard calls for jihad from mosques nearby. But it was only after returning home to Jableh I did learn that nine soldiers had been ambushed and killed.

• In the Western media Syria is often described as a country where ethnic and religious affiliation is vital. As an example, in the interview in the New York Times you were presented as "the daughter of an Alawi military and a French teacher." What is your view of that?

– Before the uprising, it was shameful to discuss or even mention the sect affiliation in public. Syria was a society where people of multiple ethnic and religious backgrounds were living in harmony, says Aliaa Mahfouz Ali.

According to her, it is wrong to describe the conflict in Syria in sectarian terms and put religious and ethnic background before political or ideological affiliations. She recalls that the same rhetoric have been used against other countries who became "victims of Western democracy."

– There are numerous similarities describing the situation of Syria and Iraq, which reveals the true reasons for the conflict. It's about taking Syria away from the axis of resistance together with Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah, destroying Syria's infrastructure so that broke western construction companies can start new projects and make money, and it is about gas wells.

Although Aliaa Mahfouz Ali for the moment can not work in Aleppo she stays in contact with her friends in the city.

– Aleppo is not completely dangerous to live in. Like in many other cities, the army-controlled areas are one hundred percent safe while the opposition-controlled areas are more like Afghanistan ...

The latter refers to the increasingly extreme religious codes of conduct that fundamentalist groups impose on the residents. Recently the news agency Reuters reported that "Islamist insurgents" had decided that women are not allowed to go out wearing make up or "indecent" clothing.

Aliaa Mahfouz Ali says that the rebels recently began using a new weapon in the war against Aleppo's population. They have banned the transfer of food through the "border crossings" to the government-controlled areas.

- The rebels are trying to starve the citizens forcing them to move to the rebel-controlled areas. They admit this in many videos and statements. The rebels claim that starvation will be a good strategy to make the people shift alliance. But that will never happen! People are suffering a lot but still they will always be steadfast and loyal to their homeland, not Al Qaeda, says Aliaa Mahfouz Ali.

On Sunday July 14 the governor of Aleppo reported that situation has improved. The bakeries are open around the clock after the authorities made lorry convoys of wheat flour and other food reach the city. It is a relief to the stricken population.

But no end of the war is not in sight. Last month the United States and the countries that call themselves "Friends of Syria" promised to increase the support to the armed groups. This is nothing that surprises Aliaa Mahfouz Ali.

– The promise of sending weapons is just an announcement of the ongoing arming since day one of the uprising. That the U.S. supports Al Qaeda in Syria and make war against them in other parts of the world is an expression of the American hypocrisy. But the Syrian Army and the Syrian people, who resisted this barbaric war, will win the battle sooner or later, says Aliaa Mahfouz Ali finally.