The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Assad's propaganda

The Syrian state media is engaged in a no-holds barred propaganda campaign, described here by this rare report from inside Syria by a foreigner. It reminds me of the insanity on Egyptian TV during the 18 days of the revolution. From the Beast:

The protests in Syria have caused the world's media to focus on this autocratic state and its brutal response to the latest development in the Arab Spring. Foreign journalists are not being allowed into Syria. As a result, conspicuously lacking from international coverage is the response of Syrians themselves to the protests. And key in understanding this response is the "media war" that the Syrian regime has openly declared.

The extent of distortion and disinformation, of efforts to control Syrians' opinions, is mind-boggling, and terrifying. Here is a brief sample:
  • Armed terrorist groups are trying to destabilize Syria. Televised confessions and discoveries of weapons caches prove this.
  • Syrian citizens welcome the arrival of the army into their cities to protect them from these armed groups. Scenes of women throwing flowers over advancing tanks prove this.
  • Foreign satellite news channels—Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, and BBC Arabic chief among them—are involved in deception and distortion in order to destabilize Syria. Detailed "refutations" of their reports prove this.
  • Under the pretense of democracy promotion, the United States is providing funds to groups whose aim is in fact to spread discord. A montage of bombardments from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, along with footage of maimed children and women, proves this. The clip finishes with the words 'Made in the USA' filling the screen.
  • On Fridays, the day on which the biggest protests have traditionally happened, looping scenes of "calm and peace and stability" in Syria's cities are broadcast.
  • And now, ringing condemnations of the Israelis' use of force against peaceful demonstrators in the occupied Golan Heights—presented without a shred of irony—eclipse all else in the Syrian news.

 "It makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. I simply can't watch it," says Mona, a Ph.D. student at Aleppo University, who participated in an anti-regime protest on Eid al-Jelaa, Syria's independence day, last month.