This is not the first time that such a measure has been adopted by the Syrian authorities. Indeed, in the early 90s, the Syrian authorities destroyed much of the old dwellings encroaching upon the old dwellings encroaching on the walls of the Umayyad mosque, including the cloister of the famous medieval philosopher Abu Hamid al-Ghazali. Protests came too late at that time as well.
If this trend should continue, soon there won’t be anything truly Damascene about Damascus.
The old forest al-Ghouta has been all but completely wiped off, the River Barada, has all but completely dried up, Qasayoun, the simple of its resisting spirit, has long been tamed by squatter settlements, unruly development, and, of course, palaces. And death haunts the Old City itself. Old Damascus, it seems, is following, or, to be more exact, is made to follow, in the footsteps of Old Hama, albeit armed with nothing but whimpers. It may not be too late, however, to prevent the crowning of this macabre achievement, if we made our protests loud enough and avoided, for the sake of Damascus at least, the overpoliticization of the issue – a pretty strange demand, I admit, coming from me.
This report is based on contact with an old friend who is in a position to know.