Why Some Syrian Expats Still Support Assad07:58
Download

Play
This article is more than 6 years old.
Syrian President Bashar Assad is pictured during a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Tehran, Iran, Aug. 19, 2009. (Vahid Salemi/AP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad is pictured during a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Tehran, Iran, Aug. 19, 2009. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

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.

“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.

“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.

Guest:

  • Nazih Hamza, Syrian businessman and immigrant in the U.S.

This segment aired on June 10, 2013.

Support the news

+Join the discussion
TwitterfacebookEmail

Support the news