The Syrian Regime and Iran are Reshaping Damascus

The Syrian Regime and Iran are Reshaping Damascus
Facebook Share


 Arabic version


University student Yara, describing the case of the Syrian capital said, "Damascus has not been recognizable to its residents for more than a year. Everything has changed. It has become a cramped city. People are living in a state of fear of everything - the shells, high cost of living, unemployment, robbery, kidnapping. They are afraid that someone will take their homes, and they fear the spread of fighting to their city and that they will face the fate of Ghouta. Many people left for various reasons and have been replaced by others. Thousands of young people have emigrated, their futures unknown. We now see new faces and hear dialects and languages ​​and religious rituals in the streets. We did not see this before except on television. I go to the university yet I do not know whether I will return to my home safely. The Damascus known by the Syrians has changed perhaps forever, and turned into another city which does not resemble what anyone remembers.


The Regime is destroying Al-Mezze Orchards


Damascus has recently begun the implementation of the demolition work in the Mezze Orchards area. The region's population receives daily dozens of submissions, through the mayors, emphasizing the need to speed up the evacuation of homes, with the promise of financial compensation.



Bashar al-Assad, the president of the Syrian regime, issued Decree No. 66 in 2012, declaring that the Mezze Orchards area, other areas in Damascus, and random housing areas should be re-regulated. The project is divided into two locations, the first an area of 9,214 hectares southeast of the Mezze district, and the second an area of 880 hectares south of the Southern Circinate area.


The Director of the Development Department of the Damascus Governorate, Mr. Jamal Al-Yousef, who is in charge of the project, justified in a press statement that the new urban project aims to re-reorganize and develop the irregular areas and haphazard construction (slums).


Activist Alaa Al-Demashqi, a member of Mezze’s Local Coordinating Committee, said to Suwar Magazine, “What the regime declares in the media is different from what it aims to do. And the Iranian military and security experts have real fears of the geographical nature of the area (Mezze Orchards) because it is connected with the orchards of Dariya and western Ghouta, two areas in the Damascus countryside. Those Iranian military and security experts faced great difficulty in controlling those areas in the past. In addition, they fear the people of those areas because they were among the first to go into demonstrations against the regime between 2011-2012.”


He continues by saying, "Mezze is a vital region, where the Iranian embassy and the headquarters of the regime’s security are, in addition to the Presidential Palace (Palace of the People). Security and protection is the first goal of the regime. And it seems the Iranian security advisers believe that protection of the region requires the demolition and displacement of its population, and new supportive faces must be brought in to replace them. "Alaa, through the magazine, wonders, "At Mezze there are other irregular areas, such as Mezze 86; why doesn’t the regime evacuate Mezze and re-build it?"


The project threatens thousands of poor and middle-class families, who rely on what they plant in their gardens to live, in addition to hundreds of displaced families from the countryside of Damascus. One resident who refused be named for security reasons stated, "It is ridiculous that the regime informed a population through their Mayor, who is security-related, that the province will compensate residents 25 thousand Syrian Pounds (SYP) as a monthly allowance to rent a house in another area, knowing that the rent on a house in Damascus is not less than 50 thousand SYP a month."



He adds, "Imagine that you wake up in the morning to the sound of a bulldozer, protected by a detachment of heavily armed military security, which intends to demolish your house and push you out of your land."


Religious atmosphere


Squares surrounding the Umayyad Mosque, Bab Touma and the Al-Jura neighborhood recently turned into periodic religious ceremonies backed by the Iranian embassy. Also, areas surrounding old Damascus markets have become dominated by Shiite militia elements that the regime brought from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, estimated at about 24 groups, including tens of thousands of members.


Um Salah, a resident of the Al-Amara neighborhood, told the magazine, "We have never seen this before in Damascus. Every Friday, a big religious procession passes in front of my house in which I hear the Iraqi dialect and the Iranian language and other languages I don’t understand." These new dynamics have caused the emergence of a real fear among people about the change in religious life and culture in which they were born and brought up, in light of the regime’s security grip and its militias.


Abu Ahmed, a Hamidiyah market trader, said to the magazine, "The Syrian people have never been sectarian. Next to Hamidiyah market, and hundreds of years ago, there are Christian Bab Touma and Shiite Al-Jura, and we lived a beautiful life far from the differences and problems." He continues, "During the Israeli aggression on Lebanon in 2006, we really supported Hezbollah as a resistance to Israel, and we opened our homes to receive the displaced Lebanese, and put images of Hassan Nasrallah on the facades of our stores. But today we can no longer remain silent about the manifestations of Shiism that the regime and the Iranian embassy try to impose over the city. Old Damascus has turned into a large religious shrine."


Money and influence in exchange for volunteering


The Iranian embassy, ​​through Syrian agents, is trying to win over many people in Damascus to volunteer with the militias by providing benefits for volunteers, such as high salaries amounting to 50 thousand SYP, in addition to food aid, facilitating communication with government institutions, and helping with daily needs. Nasser justifies that his younger brother has volunteered with Hezbollah, saying, "Whoever is not associated with the Syrian regime has to travel outside Syria. Volunteering with Hezbollah gives human influence and secures everyday life. Carrying weapons in Damascus makes it easier to secure gas, fuel, and bread."


Confiscation of houses for Syrians of Turkish origin


About two months ago, amid the silence of Damascus province, People's Committees confiscated a number of empty homes in the Turkish neighborhood of Sheikh Mohiuddin at the foot of Mount Qassioun. One of the residents in the neighborhood says to the magazine, "Shabiha break into empty homes, which owners left as a result of the deteriorating economic situation or because of a security risk after being charged for dealing with the Turkish government. The shabiha started to change the locks of their homes and transferred their contents to an unknown destination."


He continues, "When I went to Damascus to ask about my relatives’ house, who left more than a year ago, the employees asked me to bring the papers to prove ownership of the house or the arrival of the owner of the property. I cannot provide it, and thus we lost our right to it."


Double rates


Many people, as a result of unemployment, the poor economic situation and increasing security risks, are forced to sell their possessions and travel outside of Syria. Consequently, estate brokers and traders working in favor of the regime and the Iranian embassy exploit everyone to implement further schemes.



Alaa Al-Demashqi says to the magazine, "The Iranian embassy buys real estate directly and indirectly and registers it with the names of people loyal to it, or who share in the ownership."


He continues, "The buying traffic is concentrated in the center of the capital, where the embassy bought the Asia, Liwan, Venice and Petra hotels in the Al-Bahsa area, and turned them into residences for the Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas militia. Mediators pay amounts of money that outweigh the value of the estate to persuade the owners to sell, and if they refuse they will face harassment, security persecutions and different charges, such as tax evasion."


A slow Demographic change


Since Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970 he adopted the policy of slow demographic and geographic change, so as to ensure his entire control over the capital. He linked this to a security system to counter any military action that could turn against him. In addition, he brought in tens of thousands of young people from the Syrian coast and other parts of Syria, and made them work as a volunteers in both the security services and the army. He established new neighborhoods in which to place them, such as Esh Al-Warwar overlooking the Barza neighborhood, and Mezze 86, named after battalion 86, which provided housing next to their workplace. His brother Refaat also established the Sumeria neighborhood corresponding to the area Muadamiyat al-Sham, and he named it after his son.



Abu Kamel, a seventy year old man and a contemporary of the era of the eighties, said, "House prices greatly increased in the eighties and nineties. And as a result of the financial distress that Syrians were going through many of them were obliged to sell their homes in the center of Damascus, especially in the Mezze district and move to the neighboring capital of the countryside."


He continues, "Security members, army officers and merchants, are dealing with the regime who bought these properties. This has led to the existence of new owners of the area and the exit of the native population."



The dissident colonel Abu Ibrahim says to the magazine, "A long time ago, when the regime tried to control Damascus, they built the People's Palace on Mount Qassioun and turned the mountains which overlook the city headquarters for the Fourth Division and the Republican Guard the first shield to protect the regime. All this did not come about unexpectedly, rather it was planned a long time ago."





Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry
Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry

Follow Us on Facebook
© 2019 Suwar Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Boulevard