No One Wants U.S. Strikes Against The Syrian Regime More Than They Do

A quarter of the two million Syrians fleeing their country have wound up in Jordan, where there is overcrowding and difficulty obtaining work permits. Refugees are rooting for strikes asap.

Syrian refugees at Zaatari camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq
Michael Pizzi, Abdulrahman al-Masri and Nuha Shabaan

AMMAN — The imminent United States-led military strike holds particular promise to those Syrians waiting out the conflict in neighboring countries. Syrian refugees in Jordan, at least, say they hope the strike will overwhelm the regime’s security forces and allow them to finally return home.

“Toppling the authoritarian regime in Damascus will open the way for refugees to return,” says Mahmoud a-Shara’, who fled to Jordan at the onset of the revolution. “It will put an end to the largest humanitarian disaster in the world.”

A-Shara’ “strongly” supports American military intervention, an opinion he says is shared by “the rest of the Syrian refugees who have been exiled because of the regime’s policies.”

To Syrians in Jordan, the idea of an American military intervention is a low-risk proposition. Many have already lost their homes, relatives and former lives to the war.

More than a quarter of Syria’s two million refugees are ending up in Jordan, where they are struggling to find work and make ends meet. Unemployment is rampant, and Syrians say they are ready to go home.

The estimated 130,000 Syrians in Zaatari camp, more than 90% of whom come from the southern province of Daraa, are particularly desperate.

Tariq Hamshu fled his hometown of Daraa city and now lives in the Zaatari camp in Mafraq, in the northern Jordanian desert. He earns 10 Jordanian dinars, or about $16, per day working for the International Rescue Committee — an NGO that operates in the camp — but is otherwise unoccupied. Hamshu wants to leave Zaatari, but is trapped inside until he can come up with a 500 dinar fee to the Jordanian authorities.

Hamshu says he supports American intervention so long as it targets military bases and not civilians. He says that he and his friends discuss whether Western intervention could set Syria on a path to making it the next Iraq, but it is worth the risk for an opportunity to return home.

Pro-strike sentiments are echoing in urban refugee communities, which constitute 70% of Jordan’s Syrian refugees. Though these Syrians are fortunate to enjoy a high degree of security and some semblance of normalcy, unemployment is a source of frustration. Syrians say that even when job vacancies can be found, securing a work permit is costly and cumbersome.

“Syrians do not have real opportunities to work,” says a-Shara’. “Most live in poor, desolate conditions and rely on their savings or aid from charities.”

The inability to obtain official work permits “is the thing that makes Syrians angriest,” says Hussein, a 25-year-old refugee from Damascus who now lives in Amman.

“I hope to return to Damascus, so I hope that this strike will be the decisive blow to the regime,” says Hussein, who worked as a television producer in Damascus. He still has family in the Syrian capital, but supports the strike if it can “tip the balance” in the war.

Crisis not slowing down

With the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announcing Tuesday that two million Syrians are now living in neighboring countries, the refugee crisis shows no sign of slowing down.

“The war is now well into its third year, and Syria is hemorrhaging women, children and men who cross borders, often with little more than the clothes on their backs,” the UNHCR said in a statement.

The regime’s use of chemical weapons and the prospect of imminent Western intervention have struck fear into the hearts of Syrians who had previously endured the tumultuous violence. As a result, more and more are fleeing.

The Damascus suburbs of Eastern Ghouta, where the U.S. government reports that 1,429 people were killed in an Aug. 21 neurotoxic gas attack, have emptied out in the past two weeks. The result is a human traffic jam along the Jordanian border.

Nayef a-Sari, the 40-year-old manager of the pro-revolution Daraa Media Office, says that “huge numbers” of people have fled the Damascus suburbs since the chemical attacks and have been unable to cross into Jordan due to overcrowding.

The lucky ones take shelter in schools, a-Sari says. Others “lie between trees, using the ground as their beds and the sky as their blankets.” Food and medical supplies are dwindling, he adds.

With President Barack Obama opting to seek congressional approval for the strike instead of acting unilaterally, Syrian refugees will have to wait at least a few more days for news.

“I am with the American intervention,” says a refugee also named Mahmoud, a 26-year-old from Damascus who briefly worked in a bookstore but has otherwise been unemployed. Unable to obtain a work permit, Mahmoud is idle most of the day.

“I wake up and drink my coffee, sit and read the news online, and then I go see my brothers and we complain about our problems,” he says.

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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