Western media waging psychological war in Syria

Catherine Shakdam

A Syrian refugee woman walks with her two children under her
arms in the Altýnözü refugee camp in Hatay, Turkey.

With William Hague – UK First Secretary of State - already comparing the siege of Homs with the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, when over 8,000 Muslims men and children - all boys - were massacred in Bosnia by the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) under the command of General Ratko Mladiæ, it is easy to understand the role media have played in perpetuating Western nations’ narrative of war in Syria, whereby the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has been systematically made to appear ever more Barbaric in its alleged atrocities and human rights violations, as to directly endow the West with a moral duty of intervention.

From the onset of the Syrian war, Western powers, with the back-up of the United Nations, have played the liberation and humanitarian card, arguing that their desire to intervene in the crisis was solely motivated by a democratic ambition to see the Syrian people freed from oppression and tyranny, in accordance with their humanist values as well as empathy toward human suffering.

Ever more stirring the public opinion to believe that President al-Assad has come to incarnate evil in all its splendor as to better justify their own policies and morally questionable reliance on terror militias, Western powers and their allies in the region - essentially Saudi Arabia and Israel – have had to fed their propaganda machine with one grandiloquent fabrication after the other, always pushing the limit of the believable or even the feasible.

Three years into the conflict and it has become all too clear that Syria was a momentous strategic mistake on the part of the US. Having proved more resilient in its opposition of foreign powers, the Syrian army has managed against all odds to not only endure attacks on its soil but to secure tangible strategic advances against Takfiri militants across several regions, de facto defeating its enemies. Since Syria could not be vanquished on the battle field, Western powers reverted to other forms of warfare, propaganda and psychological manipulation.

As per noted by Sun Tzu – the famous Chinese military strategist and philosopher – “All warfare is based on deception.”

Not all is as it seems

In January 2014 the UN published a report in which it decried the unbearable suffering of Syria’s children. Immediately newspapers and TV channels around the world began running the story, as yet further confirmation that President al-Assad was a tyrant which needed toppling. Only they failed to realize that if indeed the report was accusatory, it was so, against the very forces which Western powers so eagerly sponsored and trained; in no case did researchers and field agents concur that the Syrian regime was condoning the ill treatment of its people.

Addressing the press, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon read passages of the report, noting, "The suffering endured by the children in the Syrian Arab Republic since the outset of the conflict, as documented in this report, is unspeakable and unacceptable.” He added in the same breath, “Of particular concern were cases of recruitment or attempted recruitment of children within refugee populations in neighbouring countries. The majority of incidents were related to recruitment by Free Syrian Army-affiliated groups or Syrian Kurdish armed groups.”

Unambiguous in its conclusion the report further read, "Interviews with children and their parents indicated that the loss of parents and relatives, political mobilization and peer pressure from families and communities, contributed to the involvement of children with FSA-affiliated groups.”

Just as people began to question the very necessity and thus legitimacy of Western-backed foreign militias in Syria since they so clearly lacked any form of morality, let alone humanity; media were quick to spin their latest distraction – the regime’s alleged use of barrel bombs on civilian population – to overcome that hurdle. Barrel bombs are typically made from a barrel that has been filled with high explosives, with possibly shrapnel and/or oil, and then dropped from a helicopter.

In a written statement published in early February in which he condemns the alleged use of barrel bombs in Homs, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared, “It is the latest barbaric act of a regime that has committed organized, wholesale torture, used chemical weapons, and is starving whole communities by blocking delivery of food to Syrian civilians in urgent need.”

Given the US government’s track records in all matters inhumane, one could be inclined to remark that Washington, most of all, should refrain from giving lessons in ethicality – comes to mind the unlawful bombing in Yemen of civilian populations by drones as well as the unlawful detention and torture of foreign nationals on American soil, only of course to name a few.

Again, while Western-backed media have been so busy spinning the new so-called horrors of the Syrian regime, as to better cloud their own infringements human rights, no one ever stopped to ponder over the timing of such allegations, or even their veracity.

While US John Kerry’s comments were placard over the news, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Muqdad’s rejections of such accusations went simply unreported. Speaking to the BBC two days after Kerry’s comments were made, Al-Muqdad noted, “We are defending our people against terrorist attacks. We have never bombarded places with civilians.”

The fact however that an estimated 36,000 al-Qaeda operatives have entered Syria seems to be troubling no one, rather, politicians have attempted to rationalize their strategy by vilifying their opponents.

According to recent reports, 14,000 Chechen fighters joined Saudi Arabia’s Takfiri militias as part of the Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to raise a formidable army in the Levant.

Moreover, it is important to realize that Syria’s barrel bombs report breakout was first published by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an organization which has been funded by Saudi Arabia for the sole purpose of serving Saudi Arabia. It is the same Observatory for Human Rights which only months ago completely by-passed the issuance of fatwas condoning rape and torture as legitimate weapons of war against civilian populations loyal to the regime.

While no one is denying that horrors have been committed in Syria, one can too easily fall into the trap set by Western narratives, by only looking through their distorted lenses and thus forget that Syria is fighting internationally sponsored terrorism.

Catherine Shakdam is a commentator and political risk consultant. Her writings have appeared in Foreign Policy Association, the Guardian and Majalla among many others. Based in the UK, she worked in collaboration with Yemen Human Rights Minister on shaping new policies to protect women rights.

PressTV. URL: http://www.a-w-i-p.com/index.php/2014/02/13/western-media-waging-psychological-war


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