I just read one of the most bizarre portrayals of what's going on in Syria by a Western journalist in recent memory, courtesy of the Telegraph's Andrew Gilligan.
First up, we have the Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad presented as a modest, easygoing kind of guy who wears blue jeans. Gilligan notes the lack of heavy security he personally saw before meeting Assad and seems to imply the Syrian regime isn't really a totalitarian security state it's said to be -- without bothering too much to point out that Assad's vast security apparatus may indeed have other things to occupy its time, such as machine-gunning villages or pulling the fingernails out of dissidents. They've got bigger priorities than assiging gun-toting thugs to shake down friendly Telegraph journalists.
Next, we get to the situation on the ground in Syria's capital -- evidently, a great place to hang out on a weekend. It's a diverse, boozy, funky kind of town:
On Thursday night, the beginning of the Muslim weekend, Damascus’s Old City was heaving with people having a good time. Men and women were mixing freely. Alcohol was widely available. A pair of Christian Orthodox priests, in their long cassocks, walked through...More >>