Mousab Alhamadee introduced himself to us as a media liaison for the opposition Local Coordination Committees (LCC) of Syria. A former translator who joined the revolution, he says he is now attached to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in an undisclosed location outside of Hama.
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Mousab, in the mountains above Hama, May 25, 2012
From the first day of the revolution I worked with the people I chose. They were wholly my friends and my countrymen. And when, at times, I was annoyed by some guys during one demonstration, I would stay in my house for days and refuse to take part in the daily rallies in my city.
Like when I was once denied the microphone to talk about an urgent issue. I knew that was wrong, but I am a sensitive man by nature. On the other hand, my anger would not last long because my heart would shake whenever I heard the slogans go high in the streets of my city. These were moments when I couldn’t control my feelings. In many instances, I suddenly found myself among the crowds again walking and chanting angrily at every new massacre committed by the regime.
But now, after 15 months, things have become organized, but more complicated. The arrival of the Free Syrian Army offered us revolutionaries, but it also came with a kind of work hierarchy. With this new bureaucracy you couldn’t move or act freely, of your own mind – following your emotions and feelings – without checking for permission from people in charge.
That did not appeal to a narcissistic person like me. I was especially annoyed when I had to ask the FSA officer every time I wanted to have some tranquil moments on one of the neighboring meadows.
So who is getting help from Friends of Syria?
Of course, we at the Local Coordination Committees of Syria are not receiving any kind of salary or financial help from anyone. We just hear that the opposition is getting financial and logistical help from the Friends of Syria group. So, in addition to the great risks of being captured by government security and being separated from my wife and daughter, I have lost my sources of income as a translator of books: I had to borrow money from my friends to buy my laptop and my digital camera to do my media work for the Local Coordination Committees.
I was especially annoyed when I had to ask the FSA officer every time I wanted to have some tranquil moments on one of the neighboring meadows – Mousab Alhamadee
I say to myself, in spite of all these facts, I can’t be moody. I have to abide by the consensus of the group of FSA fighters to which I have been attached. If they are not offering me any financial help, at least they are protecting me and providing me with the access to the Internet. I have my own room, with one guy working for me. Even my coffee is prepared for me. I am only asked to be happy and work at my desk.
As a member of LCC, living and working inside the country, I couldn’t succeed without the protection of the FSA. The situation inside Syria is very dangerous and I may be arrested easily. That is why, at some times, I am in closer contact with members of FSA rather than my colleagues in LCC.
Back to the Internet: The LCC could sometimes offer me a chance to charge my Skype account, but I haven’t had the hardware to get reliable access to the Internet yet. That is mainly because of the difficulties in smuggling the necessary equipment into Syria, and the problem of protecting me along with this equipment; such services available only through the FSA. But, not all groups in the Free Syrian Army are able to offer me quick access to the Internet all the time.
I just gave myself a transfer
There have always been problems. For example, last month I was needed to flee from one group because they had their electricity cut all the time, which was a very bad condition for television interviews. And the officers liked to use our Internet access to chat with their leadership in Turkey.
For the first time I found myself thinking about the whole idea of the moral motive of the revolution against the regime – Mousab Alhamadee
It may sound strange that I use the word “flee”, but that is the fact of the matter. On the ground, some groups of FSA have assumed the dictatorial mentality of the Assad regime: Either you are with us, or you are against us! This is the principle they rely upon.
I found that they were being very narrow-minded and decided they would not understand my reasons for leaving them. I did not tell anyone of my plans.
So, I collected my bag in the early morning when all were still asleep and headed to another mountain village where there was another FSA group I hoped was better equipped.
What happened next was very sad for me. For the first time I found myself thinking about the whole idea of the moral motive of the revolution against the regime. We made a revolution against dictatorship and injustice, but we are not being true to our goals. I felt the ground shaking under my feet again.
Then, later in the afternoon of my first day with the new FSA unit, the group I had left left sent two of their guys to ask me to return their Thuraya mobile phone because – they said – I no more worked with them.
I mocked them by asking, ‘What if I moved to work for the revolution in Bahrain,’ but they said nothing. They took the Thuraya and left.
One year and three months is a long period for a people revolution. Things should have ended a long time ago – Mousab Alhamadee
I thought very deeply in my heart about what I had said. Things changed this time; I can no longer withdraw to my house and not take part in the demonstrations. Now, things are more serious and more dangerous than a demonstration. That is one thing.
The other thing is that I – as a man of thought among those semi-illiterate guys – must be more patient and understanding. I put salt on my wound – as the Syrian proverb says – and tried to forget about the matter and work with the new group giving a deaf ear to all the negative sayings of the people I left behind.
Fortunately, the new group was better organized: They had spare batteries for the electricity cuts, and an acceptable understanding of the nature of my work. Unlike the previous messy group, they proved to be well behaved and quite respecting of the intellectual and political aspects of the revolution. They were more keen on unity; and that mattered much to me.
The resistance grows serious with time
But, this group is less supported than the first one. I mean I had to forget about getting a new Thuraya mobile phone here, which was not a big trouble to me at the time. My Skype account is very famous now, and I am online all the time and have no real need for a mobile phone.
One year and three months is a long period for a people revolution. Things should have ended a long time ago. Can the things that are happening to me explain this delay in the victory we long for? Or is it the mistake of the world that is only watching us from afar and does not offer me or my colleagues here in Syria the logistical support we need in order to work freely and independently of those fighters? We should not blame them for things the regime did and that we all blindly accepted for 40 years.
Whatever the answer is, I must acknowledge and accept it because the Syrian cause is bigger than all of us. And I must not be sad; bureaucracy is not only a part of our long-lasting revolution. It is a part and parcel of life itself.
News and comment about recent Hama killings
David Arnold coordinates the Syria Witness project at Middle East Voices and reports on Middle East and North Africa affairs for both Voice of America and MEV. The Syria Witness project publishes on-the-ground citizen reporting, giving Syrians the opportunity to offer to a global audience their first-person narratives of life on the streets of their war-torn country.