While there has been much focus on the large numbers of displaced people from Syrian government-held areas now residing in the insurgent-held areas of Idlib and Aleppo provinces, there have also been notable displacements of people originating from those insurgent-held areas and associated with support for the Syrian government. Those displaced people now reside in government-held areas such as Latakia city and its environs.
One of those people is Anwar 'Adel Rayhan (Anwar 'Abd al-Mun'im), who originates from the Idlib town of Jisr al-Shughur and presently serves as the mukhtar for the people of Idlib residing in the government-held areas of Latakia province. Anwar had recently noted the visit of the prominent Arab journalist 'Abd al-Bari 'Atwan to government-held areas of Syria and wondered how this could be allowed when the paper he previously edited- al-Quds al-Arabi- was generally producing reporting in opposition to the Syrian government in the early years of the war, including a 2014 report (which, to be sure, dates after 'Atwan's tenure as editor) that focuses on Rayhan's family, describing its alleged transformation from a family supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s into one whose members have largely been fighting in the ranks of the "militias of what is known as the shabiha" since the outbreak of the unrest and war in Syria in 2011. Included in the report was mention of Anwar and his support for the Syrian government.
I decided to reach out to Anwar so he could talk about his own life, and whether he has renewed hope in the return of Jisr al-Shughur to government control amid increasing normalisation between Arab states and the Syrian government. Below is the interview, conducted on 10 May 2023 and slightly edited and condensed for clarity.
[Click here to continue reading, for paying subscribers only]: