Nizar Kinaan is a pseudonym.
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A routine show of control in a Syrian intelligence office masked a deeper truth about the country I had returned to: It was no longer the police state of Hafez al-Assad, who bequeathed his son Bashar a frightened and submissive country. My trip home to see friends and family showed me that on the contrary, that country has gone forever. But what lies in the future is no less bleak. For the iron grip of the security services is not the only thing I saw had changed; the very fabric of society has been fundamentally altered by the long years of conflict.