Tag Archives: Syria

Searching for Facts Beneath the Propaganda: Syria

James Harkin

It’s taken me a little while but it was worth it. The article is long (about 10,000 words) and after having read it I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any shorter. Anyone who is interested in how news media works, how information is sourced in the age when competing groups and individuals can disseminate their respective viewpoints always backed up with live images of what we are assured is supporting evidence, and how one goes about digging down beneath all these reports and seeks to find out what actually happened and why by visiting the site and talking to witnesses, will find What Happened in Douma? Searching for Facts in the Fog of Syria’s Propaganda War by James Harkin, published in The Intercept, very informative.

I imagine most of us tend to read any news from war zones with a sense of provisionality, of thinking, ‘Well, that’s what we’re hearing now and people are using that news story to justify further involvement in the war, further killing, but who knows how long it will be before the truth ever comes out, if ever.’ James Harkin’s essay certainly reinforces justification for that response to war-time news.

The author’s research was supported by a fellowship at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University. Benjamin Decker at the Shorenstein Center’s Information Disorder Lab provided open-source investigative support and Rahaf Safi at Harvard’s Kennedy School contributed research. Other research and translation support was provided by Victor Lutenco of the Kennedy School and Hannah Twomey of the Centre for Investigative Journalism in London.

Douma

A thought-provoking read:

The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack

 

Latest on Syria’s Complexities

syria

The news on Syria is drenched with unconfirmed and unsourced reports, print, video and audio. I learned long ago that the mainstream media is driven too much by economics to be a reliable source — if the government or the corporation or any other interest group gives you a free press release then don’t waste time checking it out, just broadcast it!

Over some years now I have come to respect Middle East journalist Robert Fisk. Some on the rabid right loathe him, but I have found his analysis to be the most spot on in the end whether it’s about Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Israel-Gaza/West Bank, or Syria. He knows his stuff.

Here is his interview with Kerry O’Brien (a prominent Australian interviewer) on what is going on in Syria right now and what appears to be around the corner. Click on the 13 minutes of video here: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/02/16/3432592.htm read more »

Syria: Report of the Arab League Observer Mission

Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...
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As a follow up to my earlier post Syria: what we are not being told here is an English translation of the report of the Arab League Observer Mission to Syria. Of particular interest are the statements made in it about the way the media have treated the mission and misreported certain statements by some of its members. Of special note, too, is the report of the existence of “an armed entity that is not mentioned in the protocol.” And of most importance is the report’s findings on the will of the Syrian people themselves.

Report_of_Arab_League_Observer_Mission (pdf file)

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Syria: What we are not being told

Map of Syria, showing its adjacent location we...
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Asia Times has a thoroughly documented article, A Mistaken Case for Syrian Regime Change, by Beirut based Aisling Byrne, a Projects Co-ordinator with Conflicts Forum. It is depressingly predictable reading.

In the last some weeks or more I have been only half-listening to any news of Syria I hear on the mainstream media for the simple reason that I have grown tired of hearing vague reports, unsubstantiated and contradictory reports, especially noticeable after I ever chanced to hear interviews in documentary type radio news programs, even on Al Jazeera, that all I have been sure of is that we are not being informed about what is happening there.

And Aisling Byrne’s article shows us why the news has been so unclear and incoherent. Except for the headlines that continually bombard us with the singular theme of genocidal tyrannical regime massacring its own people. I try to listen beyond the headlines and pick up some sourced facts and that’s where the headlines begin to turn into knotted strings beyond hope of unravelling. That leaves me suspicious that the headlines are a smokescreen for something. I eventually gave up listening because the detail was never there or never confirmed.

Read Aisling Byrne. It’s the same story as we experienced with the massaging of the Western publics to support the invasion of Iraq and then the humanitarian bombing of Libya. (Aisling has a little to say about that, too.)

Our mainstream Western media has for too many years now been the main cheerleaders for warmongering ventures of our governments acting on behalf of “our national interests”. (Translation of “national interest”: those specific interests within a nation that have the money and the power.)

Bush did it all wrong. He provoked ten million protestors to come out into the streets worldwide to try to stop a war. Ten million protestors don’t represent “national interests” so it would not do to make that mistake again. Libya showed a better way that became possible through exploitation of the Arab uprisings. Select target states (Libya and Syria) quickly found their peaceful civilian demonstrator replaced by armed gangs soliciting western military support. Curiously the same did not happen in states where popular protests threatened Western interests (e.g. Bahrain). Coincidence, of course.

Aisling Byrne’s article begins with the evidence that what is happening in Syria is the first chapter of a war on Iran, or at least regime change in Iran. This is confirmed by Under Secretary of State for the Near East Jeffrey Feltman and other sources.

What we are seeing in Syria is a deliberate and calculated campaign to bring down the Assad government so as to replace it with a regime “more compatible” with US interests in the region.

Remember that infamous Project for a New American Century? Well some of the same people behind that have been busy with a new document, Which Path to Persia? This is the “blueprint” for regime change in Iran produced by the neo-con Brookings Institute. A more recent appendix to this book is Towards a Post-Assad Syria produced by two neo-con think-tanks. It illustrates

how developments in Syria have been shaped according to the step-by-step approach detailed in the “Paths to Persia” report with the same objective: regime change. read more »