The Obama administration could decide this week whether to approve weapons for rebels in Syria, or U.S. air power to enforce a no-fly zone over the country.
President Bashar Assad's regime has gained the upper hand in the 19-month-long battle, bolstered by Iran, Russia and Hezbollah fighters from neighboring Lebanon.
"Democracy cannot be exported. It’s a different culture, a different history, a different setup and mixture."Nazih Hamza
It may be surprising to know that some Syrian expatriates in the United States continue to support Assad’s regime, for a number of complicated reasons.
Nazih Hamza is one of them. He grew up in Sweida, Syria, a member of the Druze minority religious group, and has been in the U.S. since 1982. He owns the Gourmet Market in Cambridge, Mass.
- See also: Syrian Americans Press For Regime Change
“The original protest was, at the beginning, it was a legitimate demonstration,” Hamza said. “The situation is not perfect. Reforms need to be done. There was martial law for many, many, many years. That needed to be lifted. [The Assad regime] made a lot mistakes, and they admit that.”
However, Hamza does not believe that there is a popular uprising in Syria. He says it's a plan by Islamic extremists to take over the country.
“They’re waiting for any weak moments to come out,” Hamza said. “They’ve been waiting for a long time.”
He fears that if the rebels win, they will impose Islamic law on the country.
- See also: H&N's full coverage of Syrian civil war
“We’ve learned some harsh lessons through our history,” Hamza said. “[Religion and government] should be separate.”
Hamza says European and American intervention on behalf of the rebels is based on a naïve hope for creating democracy in Syria.
“Democracy cannot be exported. It’s a different culture, a different history, a different setup and mixture,” he said.
Hamza believes Assad is the better of two bad choices for the country, because Assad would at least be able to stabilize the country.
- Nazih Hamza, Syrian businessman and immigrant in the U.S.
This segment aired on June 10, 2013.
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