It’s hard to avoid the ongoing conflict and violence in Syria. This small country, rapt by civil war, has become a tragic humanitarian crisis. Janine Di Giovanni is a seasoned journalist, who had reported from Sarajevo during the war in Bosnia. Born in New Jersey now living in Paris, she has spent several weeks in Syria witnessing almost the same thing in there as she once had reported on from Sarajevo. The Morning They Came For Us: Dispatches From Syria is a long report of what she witnessed there. Abuse, systematic rape, starvation, devastation. I picked this book up from the library, committed to knowing more about what is really happening there. It’s a compelling story, and goes way beyond anything I had heard or read about Syria.
In my husband’s multiple trips to the Middle East, he has been all over the place. The closest he’s been to the Syrian conflict is Jordan. I’ve never feared for his safety more than while he was there. Jordan continues to take in Syrian refugees, and after reading this account, I believe that many more countries could follow their example. Di Giovanni visited a few places in the country, and each place she visited faced similar situations. The situation in Aleppo may be the most reported on, and she went there. But she also went to Damascus, Latakia, Homs, Darayya, and Zabadani.
In the beginning of the conflict, Syrian rebels were inspired by the Arab Spring. Bashar al Assad inherited his position from his father, something average Syrians weren’t happy with. His father had actually picked a new name when he rose to power – assad actually means lion, which is an accurate description of his and his son’s leadership style.
If the Arab Spring was about democracy, and it could’ve meant other things to other people, Syrians believed in this promise. What this civil brought to average Syrians is years of suffering – of torture under Assad’s regime. Even though Syria has been all over the news the past few years, I knew very little of what was really going on – and how the conflict started. The story Di Giovanni is an important one – and will either change opinions on the conflict in Syria, or strengthen them. There is so much heartbreak there, yet the saddest part of the story of Syria is that it is still ongoing. I hope that it ends soon, but I’m not hopeful.