It has been a long time since I had a chance to write. Lev and I were traveling in Europe for all of August and then trying to recover from the trip for the last two weeks! We had a great trip and made plans to live in many other foreign cities in the near and far future. One of the most interesting parts of our trip was returning to Syria after our summer in Cairo. I wasn't sure how noticeable the differences between the two countries would be; I figured the craziness that characterizes the Cairene streets would have its Damascene equivalent. But it did not. The streets in Damascus were spotless and the microbuses ran like clockwork. I walked on the sidewalks and no one stared at me obscenely or otherwise. And generally people seemed happier and healthier. It seems more and more to me that these superficial signs can be read as signals of the health of the regime. Yes, in both countries the military is the strongest institution; however, whereas in Syria the officers stand on most corners in clean, smart uniforms, seemingly ready for anything, in Egypt they sit slumped inside their post or car waiting for the shift to end. Or, as another example, the street sweepers in Damascus actually sweep. The Syrian regime has truly been able to reach down into the society and regulate the various levels and going-ons of Syrian society. Unlike in Egypt, where everyday you have to ask yourself how it is possible for things to continue as they do, Syria does not feel like it is on the edge of some unknown change or implosion.
Looking ahead: Will Mubarak run in the next elections or will his son take his place at the head of the National Democratic Party? Will the Muslim Brotherhood participate or boycott and will their choice have any impact on the country's internal politics?