The “walls of fear” backed by weapons have returned to the regions of Bashar-al Assad’s “useful Syria,” and especially in Damascus. Not just the security agencies alone, but from members of the National Defense Forces and Syrian and non-Syrian militias, in addition to the appearance of networks of the “new guard” which gained its legitimacy and authority through war and killing. It seems that some of its constituents are more ideological and extreme than the “old guard,” whose members were considered in turn to be a “new guard” when Bashar al-Assad took power 16 years ago.
Western journalists, after visiting Damascus to participate in a forum at the invitation of the British Syrian Society, believe there is a wide gap between what Syrian officials wanted to say and the reality of the situation. One of the journalists said: “Officials told us there was a trend toward political and media opening and closing the page of the past and that they were ready to bear criticism, but when we left the meeting hall to the streets and we tried to meet some opposition figures, we were surprised to find that the opposite was true — actually even worse than it was in 2011.”
He added that a number of opposition intellectuals and politicians had vanished, and that additionally, “We found it difficult to communicate with those who were said to be present. When we met some of them it was clear that they were being closely monitored to control what they could say.”
See more: http://syrianobserver.com/EN/Features/31953/The_Walls_Fear_Return_Armed_Damascus/