i Editor's Letter: Memories of Syria
Oliver Duff was appointed Editor of i in June 2013. He was previously Executive Editor at The Independent, i and The Independent on Sunday, running the newsroom. Formerly a reporter, gossip columnist and news editor, he was fired as the magazine's bar critic after three weeks. A diver and surfer, he's interested in nature and science, politics and diplomacy.
Wednesday 19 June 2013
I travelled around Syria four weeks before the launch of i. The story sounds grander now, more adventurous. But at the time the Arab Spring was still six months away, and a budget airline was selling cheap flights to Damascus.
It pains me these days to read of the country. I want to remember the buzzing souks, the man selling jars of writhing snakes, the little girl playing hide and seek behind the bread van, the raucous wedding convoy that wound past a Crusader castle as the sun set. We – two Western tourists – were considered curiosities, and my dozen words of Arabic didn’t exactly tear down the language barrier. But I’ve never been treated with more kindness on my travels. Where are those people today?
Yesterday’s developments at Enniskillen offer the prospect of peace talks. Caveats abound, as Assad plans an offensive against opposition-held Aleppo. But with the rebels lacking national support, and any collapse of the regime posing a threat to regional stability, Cameron and Obama are trapped by their own rhetoric of intervention. Unless they put boots on the ground they may have to accept a role for Assad in Syria’s future.
One day in the Editor’s chair, and I seem to have avoided any Joe Kinnear-style bloopers (see Sport). There were no protesters outside the office when I arrived for work.
To those of you who have been with i from the start, congratulations: this is your 800th edition. Thank you for all the welcoming messages, ideas and grumbles. Over the coming days, I hope to find a larger home in these pages for your terrific volume of correspondence. Please keep it coming: email@example.com or on Twitter @olyduff.
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
- 1 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway in dense fog
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina