One of the best reporters I’ve had the privilege of working with got into Damascus for the first time in three years and found that there’s a new patina of normality there.
Slobodan Lekic writes for Stars and Stripes, the excellent military-oriented daily that has become a landing spot for several other ex-AP types. Click here to check it out. Slobo is an expert on military matters and a seasoned, no-nonsense journalist–if this had come from somewhere else, I would have thought it was Syrian government propaganda. That said, in answer to my question, he agreed that the positive atmosphere in Damascus could be a fool’s paradise, a temporary upturn that could be overwhelmed by the reality of destruction from Syria’s civil war.
As I posted earlier this week, it’s rare for a Western journalist to get into Damascus to do some serious reporting. That’s one of the main factors limiting our ability to understand what’s going on there. Like so many other places in the Mideast, the lack of hands-on coverage also limits the world’s response, as the misguided conclusion in this age of instant communications is, if we didn’t see it on TV, it didn’t happen. It’s so easy to manipulate that attitude simply by keeping reporters out, and that’s what most regimes in this region do.