Flashback: Most Syrians Back President Assad, But You’d Never Know From Western Media (Guardian)

Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know from western media (Guardian, Jan 17, 2012):

Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favour of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news? Especially as the finding would go against the dominant narrative about the Syrian crisis, and the media considers the unexpected more newsworthy than the obvious.

Alas, not in every case. When coverage of an unfolding drama ceases to be fair and turns into a propaganda weapon, inconvenient facts get suppressed. So it is with the results of a recent YouGov Siraj poll on Syria commissioned by The Doha Debates, funded by the Qatar Foundation. Qatar’s royal family has taken one of the most hawkish lines against Assad – the emir has just called for Arab troops to intervene – so it was good that The Doha Debates published the poll on its website. The pity is that it was ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go.

The key finding was that while most Arabs outside Syria feel the president should resign, attitudes in the country are different. Some 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, motivated by fear of civil war – a spectre that is not theoretical as it is for those who live outside Syria’s borders. What is less good news for the Assad regime is that the poll also found that half the Syrians who accept him staying in power believe he must usher in free elections in the near future. Assad claims he is about to do that, a point he has repeated in his latest speeches. But it is vital that he publishes the election law as soon as possible, permits political parties and makes a commitment to allow independent monitors to watch the poll.

Biased media coverage also continues to distort the Arab League’s observer mission in Syria. When the league endorsed a no-fly zone in Libya last spring, there was high praise in the west for its action. Its decision to mediate in Syria was less welcome to western governments, and to high-profile Syrian opposition groups, who increasingly support a military rather than a political solution. So the league’s move was promptly called into doubt by western leaders, and most western media echoed the line. Attacks were launched on the credentials of the mission’s Sudanese chairman. Criticisms of the mission’s performance by one of its 165 members were headlined. Demands were made that the mission pull out in favour of UN intervention.

The critics presumably feared that the Arab observers would report that armed violence is no longer confined to the regime’s forces, and the image of peaceful protests brutally suppressed by army and police is false. Homs and a few other Syrian cities are becoming like Beirut in the 1980s or Sarajevo in the 1990s, with battles between militias raging across sectarian and ethnic fault lines.

As for foreign military intervention, it has already started. It is not following the Libyan pattern since Russia and China are furious at the west’s deception in the security council last year. They will not accept a new United Nations resolution that allows any use of force. The model is an older one, going back to the era of the cold war, before “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect” were developed and often misused. Remember Ronald Reagan’s support for the Contras, whom he armed and trained to try to topple Nicaragua’s Sandinistas from bases in Honduras? For Honduras read Turkey, the safe haven where the so-called Free Syrian Army has set up.

Here too western media silence is dramatic. No reporters have followed up on a significant recent article by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer who now writes for the American Conservative – a magazine that criticises the American military-industrial complex from a non-neocon position on the lines of Ron Paul, who came second in last week’s New Hampshire Republican primary. Giraldi states that Turkey, a Nato member, has become Washington’s proxy and that unmarked Nato warplanes have been arriving at Iskenderum, near the Syrian border, delivering Libyan volunteers and weapons seized from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenal. “French and British special forces trainers are on the ground,” he writes, “assisting the Syrian rebels, while the CIA and US Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers …”

As the danger of full-scale war increases, Arab League foreign ministers are preparing to meet in Cairo this weekend to discuss the future of their Syrian mission. No doubt there will be western media reports highlighting remarks by those ministers who feel the mission has “lost credibility”, “been duped by the regime” or “failed to stop the violence”. Counter-arguments will be played down or suppressed.

In spite of the provocations from all sides the league should stand its ground. Its mission in Syria has seen peaceful demonstrations both for and against the regime. It has witnessed, and in some cases suffered from, violence by opposing forces. But it has not yet had enough time or a large enough team to talk to a comprehensive range of Syrian actors and then come up with a clear set of recommendations. Above all, it has not even started to fulfil that part of its mandate requiring it to help produce a dialogue between the regime and its critics. The mission needs to stay in Syria and not be bullied out.

1 thought on “Flashback: Most Syrians Back President Assad, But You’d Never Know From Western Media (Guardian)

  1. Western corporate media is silent because the corporatists in power want regime change in Syria, similar to what was done to Iraq.
    The US went into Iraq, displaced Saddam (he had been one wanting the US dollar replaced as the world reserve currency with gold) and put in a puppet government.
    The puppet government gave long term, low cost leases to the 63 top producing Iraq Oil wells to the oil corporations. They were given the oil, and all the profit, the US taxpayer paid with blood, limbs and taxes. The corporations got a free ride. The Iraq people got their oil stolen, and that is why there are still “insurgents” in Iraq. They are rightfully angry their oil was stolen.
    Their nation has been destroyed. Obama moved US troops out of Iraq as soon as the oil leases were enacted, replacing them with 50,000 mercenaries……all at taxpayer expense……to protect the oil for the corporations.
    Libya, unlike Iraq, isn’t considered a rogue nation in the Middle East. It has Russia, China, and Iran protecting it, keeping it afloat since the civil war started.
    If the US got a foothold in Syria, Iran would be next, and the rest of the world will not sit by for it. Regardless of the lies told in the corporate media, Iran is a very rich country, thanks to the Iraq war, and is a fruitful trading partner for Russia, China, and much of the world……unlike the US would have you believe.
    Today, the US is seen as the rogue nation, thanks to it’s behavior in Iraq.
    In Jan, 2010, the US dollar was involved in 100% of world international trading. In summer of that year, Hugo Chavez introduced the first electronic currency, the Sucre, for member nations of his organization, the South American Trade Alliance. For the first time, member nations could trade with each other, using their own currencies, leaving the dollar out. The Sucre translated the value of each currency, making conversion to the dollar obsolete and unnecessary.
    Russia and China quickly followed suit, recruiting Turkey, many nations in South America and in Africa. India and Japan joined them after the next sanctions put on Iran…..all of these nations trade with Iran. Iran accepts most currencies or gold, has done that for quite a while.
    Recently New Zealand and Australia dumped the dollar.
    The US dollar has gone from involvement in 100% of world trading to less than 50% in three years.
    The real war is economic, and the US is losing.
    Their nonstop printing of the dollar is coming back to bite all of us. Soon, we will all be sitting on piles of paper currency that nobody wants or needs.
    This is the real war, never mentioned in US media, and the US is losing. The leaders of this war are Russia and China, Hugo Chavez being dead.

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