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"How many years have you been living in Beirut?" I asked my barber, Eyad, after he told me, beaming, that in three months from now, he will be returning home, to Damascus.
Even one year ago, such conversations would not be easy to commence. But now, everything has been changing, rapidly and, one wants to believe, irreversibly.
Although nothing is truly irreversible, the better things are on the ground in Syria, the more threatening the West is becoming, particularly the United States. Now it is, once again, intimidating Damascus, ready to attack the Syrian army, something that could easily drag Russia and others into a lethal confrontation. The war! The West is clearly obsessed with perpetual war in Syria, while most of the Syrian people are passionate about bringing back an everlasting peace.
"6 years," replied my barber, preparing his razor. I detected sadness and indignation in his voice, "6 years too many!"
"After you go back, then what? Are you going to open your own salon in Damascus?" I was curious. He is the best barber I have ever had, a real master of his trade, quick and confident, precise.
"No," he smiled. "I never told you, but I'm a mechanical engineer" About being a barber; I learned the trade from my grandfather. In the Arab world now, millions are doing something that is not their main profession" But I want to return home and help to rebuild my country."
I knew nothing about Eyad's political affiliations. I used to consider it impolite to ask. Now I sensed that I could, but I didn't. He was going back, returning home, eager to help his country, and that was all that mattered.
"Come visit me in Damascus," he smiled, as we were parting. "Syria is a small country, but it is enormous!"
On February 24 2017, The New York Times, unleashed its usual vitriolic sarcasm towards the country which hosts enormous number of Syrian refugees -- Lebanon:
"About 1.5 million Syrians have sought refuge in Lebanon, making up about a quarter of the population, according to officials and relief groups, and there is a widely held belief in Lebanon that refugees are a burden on the country's economy and social structure.
Mr. Tahan, a gregarious man who sought to portray himself as the refugees' benefactor, dismissed the idea that they are harming the country's economy and straining social services. He said the government pushed that view to get more money from the United Nations.- Advertisement -
Refugees, he said, benefit the Lebanese, from the generator operators providing them with electricity, to the owners of shops where they spend their United Nations food vouchers, to landowners who benefit from their cheap labor. It is an argument often heard from international organizations, which say the burden of hosting the refugees is largely offset by the economic stimulus they provide, not to mention $1.9 billion in international aid in 2016 alone, the United Nations says.
Mr. Tahan said he expected the Syrians to stay for years, based on his experience in Lebanon's civil war."
One would hardly encounter such a tone when the New York Times is describing the 'refugee crises' in the European Union. There, several super-rich and much more populous countries than Lebanon keep pretending that they simply cannot absorb approximately the same amount of people as has been sheltered by the tiny Middle Eastern nation.