Photo Essay

Welcome to the Axis of Evil

And I believe in you!!

I was living in Santiago de Chile when the prospect of working in Syria arose. I was really comfortable in Santiago but irritated by how slow work starts up after the summer. I was also fed up with living next to the grandiose Andes mountains and not being able to see them because of all the smog that looms over the city; in turn this signalled a time for change.

I got the job in Syria after a lengthy application form and grueling telephone interview and was then destined to arrive in about a month. I knew next to nothing about Syria except for that it 'joined' the Axis of Evil in February of 2002 because the US State Department accuses it of harbouring Palestinian groups which it classifies as terrorists. Syria classifies these groups as freedom fighters but it appears that little room existed for debate over the nomenclature of the situation as Mr. President George W. Bush was quoted saying in a BBC article,

"Nations must choose, they are with us or with the terrorists." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1935644.stm)

So, it looks as if Mr. President George W. Bush viewed Syria in such a way despite the fact that it has shared information with the CIA and has been a useful partner in fighting Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda. This fact confused me as such co-operation hardly depicts a place that must ooze so much evil that it is added to the infamous Axis. I felt that further studies must be conducted and was therefore very enthusiastic that I would soon be there.

I am now writing this after living in Syria for over a year and I can't help but feel that all the hype about it being evil is just a farce. Upon my arrival I was greatly under whelmed with the amount of evilness across the land; people are outlandishly friendly and genuinely happy that you were there to see how un-evil they really are. I was instantly surprised to see how historic, religiously diverse and tolerante the country truly is. And before long I began visiting and seeing places such as the Barada River, where John the Baptist was baptised; crusader castles; Hama, where the Romans built massive water wheels to feed the aqua ducts; and Ma'loula, one of the few places on Earth where Aramaic, the native tongue of Jesus of Nazareth, is still spoken. As you may guess the list goes on and on.

Syria is not without its problems but this is the same for any country. At the moment, though, it is engaged in the initiation of peace talks with its greatest enemy; not exactly what you would expect from a nation classified as a part of the Axis of Evil. And it seems very keen on being a part of the new 'Club Med' that the French president is trying to create.

The United States of America also has a few of its own problems and we will all see what happens with its newly elected president. I merely hope that the issue of erroneous classification can soon be corrected.

I hope you enjoy the photos; they represent an ecliptic view of the country.

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1 response

  • Dave Michael

    Dave Michael said (8 Oct 2008):

    Michael it is amazing how much differently people view things when they are willing to check them out for themselves instead of blindly accepting what their government says. Although I have not traveled as much of the world as I would like, I am a firm believer that world travel is a great means for fighting prejudice.
    Your story and pictures are great.

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