David Enders, author of Baghdad Bulletin and the forthcoming Death of a Nation, appeared on Dan Rather Reports Tuesday evening to discuss the ongoing conflict in Syria between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition forces seeking to drive his regime from power. After showing Enders’ devastating footage from villages decimated by the brutality of Assad’s armies, Rather spoke with Enders about his experiences in the country. Enders, a journalist with considerable experience in the Middle East, had once been granted a visa during a period when the Syrian government was attempting to mend ties with international organizations, but has also entered the country illegally three times, a method which he says also grants him better freedom of movement.
“There are many front lines– all over the country,” Enders said of the situation he witnessed in Syria. He noted that there are both rebel and government strongholds throughout the country, as well as “cities or villages that are divided.” “We moved from one village to another, often using back roads. Sometimes literally traveling through people’s fields.”
While Assad tries to portray the civil war as an Islamist uprising, Enders said this is not the case. “There are Islamist fighters amongst the rebels, without a doubt. But what the sense is on the ground is that this is a popular insurrection,” he said. He also said that, while some rebels complain about the lack of outside aid, international intervention could be a risky proposition. Enders suggested that countries or international bodies arming either side “risks exacerbating the violence,” but “it’s not unreasonable that more could be done, especially along the borders, to create safe areas.”
“We’re seeing a severe humanitarian crisis developing,” he added. “And people who are not directly involved with the fighting are paying the prices.”
Baghdad Bulletin, David Enders’ street-level account of the Iraq war and occupation, is available now. Death of a Nation will be published in 2013.
Episodes of Dan Rather Reports are available to download from iTunes.