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Food for thought

Arab revolutions and uprisings: Beware of media disinformation

{Disinformation} by Juan Kalvellido

The case of Syria and Bahrain

by realistic bird

The role of the media is to inform and to present events as they are. However, this role has been hijacked to use media networks for other purposes. One of the reasons I blog is to present people with information many media might not focus on so in this light I wanted to share some points I was able to compile over a period of few weeks. The amount of disinformation and inconsistencies in the media has been systematic to the degree that it has become obvious there is an aim to shift our views to believe certain things. I was shocked with the amount of people who were led astray by this disinformation. People I used to see as “thinkers” and have knowledge of geopolitics were taken by a few media tricks. So, the main question to ponder is if these media were really telling us exactly what is happening then why all these distortions?

Syria

Let’s start with the “eye witnesses” and the “activists” who are being used in the media as a source of updates and information. One could argue that these networks can’t get information if the government doesn’t allow journalists on the ground then in these situations alternative sources have to be used but at least if the source says something nonsensical or off somehow this person will not be used again, right? For example a witness on an Arab station claimed he is in Dara’a and capable of seeing and hearing everything; first he claimed there is mutiny within the ranks of the army and second he can hear the army orders even when he is hundreds of meters away as he said himself. Does this man have bionic eyes and ears? The rumor that the army is breaking up is not new and there is a previous report about Western media stating the same thing which turned out to be false. If we assume for the sake of argument that the soldiers are being shot by other security men in this situation we are talking about tens of deaths and some with mutilated bodies but Syria has institutions and the government would have no apparatus to gain control if it did that, so the whole argument is absurd to begin with. This means that the army and police are being targeted then not all the protests are peaceful. A second “witness” called ‘Abdullah’ talks to Al Arabiya from Dara’a then on Al Jazeera (Ar) from Duma, it seems the man can’t stay put in one place. A third example of a witnesses who keeps claiming there is no electricity, fuel or phones in Dara’a yet he tells the anchor that he saw things on the TV and he is able to call every day. These are just examples of many of the illogical ramblings of some “witnesses”. These channels take the word of these “witnesses” and immediately put it as a fact. Where are the fact checkers? Where is the professionalism? On the other hand there are reports (Western media lie about Syria – eyewitness reports) that contradict these “eye witnesses”:

RT: What’s happening in Syria? What have you seen? And that are the Syrians saying?

Anhar Kochneva: Not even once did I come across anyone who would in any way support these riots; and mind you, in the line of my job, I deal with all sorts of people. There are many vehicles with the president’s portraits driving the streets throughout the country – ranging from old, barely moving crankers to brand new Porsches and Hummers. You can’t force people into hanging up portraits. It means that people, irrespective of their status and income, support the president rather than the rebellion. I saw quite a number of young people walking or driving around with Syrian flags. How can you force a young person hanging out with friends to wave flags? I think it’s difficult too. If you understand the mentality of the Syrians you can tell there is a sincere impulse from a forced obligation.

On March 29, I saw a rally in Hama to support the president – indeed, many thousands of men and women, with their children, and entire families went out. The streets were flooded with people. It was quite a shock to see Al-Jazeera presenting rallies in support of the president as if they were protests against him. It was just as surprising to see the Israeli websites post photos and videos of supporters’ rallies with comments saying those were opponents of the regime. There you have people holding portraits of Bashar al-Assad and flags, and we’re told that these people are against him.

RT: The media reports mass anti-government rallies.

AK: There’s a powerful misinformation swell going on. On April 1, the media reported a large anti-governmental rally in Damascus. I was in Damascus on that day. This rally never happened – I didn’t see it, and neither did the locals.

On April 16, Reuters news agency wrote that 50,000 opponents of the regime took to the streets of Damascus, and that they had been dispersed with tear gas and batons. Damascus’ residents realize that such a rally could not take place in the city unnoticed. How many policemen would it take to disperse it? And how come nobody saw it except Reuters? Five hundred people in the streets of Damascus are a large crowd. Reuters broadcast their material around the world, including Russia. One source lies, and then this lie is like a snowball rolling downhill creating a fake reality, and picking up rumor and speculation…

/Presently, a lot of young unarmed policemen get killed. The media propaganda immediately labels them as victims of the regime. I repeat, policemen are unarmed. The Syrian police are not too good with guns, because nothing like this has happened here for a long time. But the killed rookies are reported as either victims among the protestors, or as policemen who refused to shoot at their fellow countrymen, depending on the editors’ preference. Goebbels’ words seem to be true: the bigger the lie, the more easily they believe it…

/ RT: What role are Syrian emigrants playing in the Syrian destabilization?

AK: It’s an open question. There was a leak claiming that Dan Feldman, Hillary Clinton’s special representative for the Middle East, met representatives of the Syrian opposition in Istanbul in mid-April and suggested the tactics for assassinations of civil and military officials. In less than three days, on April 19, several military officials had been brutally killed in Syria. Not only were they attacked and shot dead, some victims of the attacks, including three teenage children of a Syrian general, who were in a car with him, were cut to pieces with sabres.

Murders committed with a high degree of brutality are aimed at intimidating the population. The news that children had been cut to pieces served that purpose quite well. (Read all the report)

The videos also can’t be verified, I’m sure not all of them are false but at least don’t show a video if it doesn’t make sense. On Friday 29/4/2011 it was raining heavily in Syria, they even had hail yet in some videos the people are dry and no rain/water on the ground (the Syrian media is not up to standard but one channel made a point to compile the inconsistencies, documented here, there are many videos in Arabic).

Another odd occurance is the role of ones who say they are “islamists” and attack Bashar Al Assad by claiming he has an alliance with the Israelis. Even I saw odd posters held by some people in the streets putting a dollar sign on the head of the Syrian president. If anyone knows any history and politics the last thing one can accuse Al Assad with is that he is an American puppet or a Zionist collaborator. The countries that control the media in question are the ones who can be labeled in that manner. Another rumor said that the Israelis want Al Assad to remain but two things were revealed from the Israelis themselves to put this to rest. First, just watching the Israeli media they are ecstatic about the unrest happening in Syria and they specifically said it regains what it lost in Egypt. Second, there is a false idea that the Israelis would have a problem if those “islamists” take the upper hand for I saw a program on Israeli TV in which they were discussing a video from a man who claims to be from the Syrian opposition  labeled as a “Sheikh” asking Netanyahu to stop supporting Al Assad and saying no one can get rid of “Israel”. The two Israeli youths of the program then hope that nothing happens to this man and add “insha’Allah” to it too. Moreover, a recent revealed wiki leaks cable from the US embassy in Lebanon about the former PM Sa’ed Al Hariri in which he suggested that the Syrian regime needs to be removed and replaced by a combination of Abdel Al Karim Khadam and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (who support peace with “Israel”).

13. (S/NF) If the regime were to fall in Syria, who would
be there to fill in the vacuum? Perplexed that the Alawites,
who make up only 7-8 per cent of Syria, could rule so
exclusively as “a family business” over a vast Sunni
majority, Saad suggested that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood,
in partnership with ex-regime figures like Abdel Halim
Khaddam and Hikmet Shehabi (“though he’s still close to the
regime”), could step into the void. Saad claimed that the
Syrian Brotherhood is similar in character to Turkey’s
moderate Islamists. “They would accept a Christian or a woman
as President. They accept civil government. It’s like
Turkey in Syria. They even support peace with Israel.”
Saying that he maintains close contact with Khaddam (in
Paris) and Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leader-in-exile Ali
Bayanuni (in London), Saad urged us to “talk to Bayanuni.
See what he’s like. You will see wonders.”

One of the most shocking revelations was the way Al Jazeera Arabic dealt with the happenings in Syria and Bahrain. More of its credibility was lost when a video (in Arabic) of the “thinker” Azmi Bashara and an anchor discuss what uprisings to talk about and which ones to ignore. In the video Bashara tells the anchor not to ask him about Jordan and complains why he asked him about Bahrain, the anchor answers he had to clean up the network’s reputation regarding that (I assure the anchor it did not work) and they will take 40 min to focus on Syria. The second incident is the resigning of the well-known and truly professional head of Al Jazeera Bureau in Lebanon Ghassan Bin Jeddo. The reasons cited by him where about the lack of objectivity of the network (on Bahrain) and its incitement tactics (on Syria). In addition, a Syrian anchor on Al Arabiya resigned for the way the network is dealing with the events in Syria. Here I must point out how ironic it is that these undemocratic countries support the wants of the people as long it is not on their lands or near them. Other reports (in Arabic) reveal messages from UAE, Qatar, Turkey, and some Europeans are being sent to Syria with a list of demands, the main one to detach from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. If that happens Syria will be given economic and social “help” from Gulf countries and any security related aid (yes we did see what they did in Bahrain, I will mention later on).

Everybody is in an uproar to save the Libyans and the Syrians but calling for help from the same ones who have killed/helped others to kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Pakistanis, Afghanis, and many others around the world is nothing but insanity. Who in his/her right mind thinks the US gov. and some European governments will save the Libyans and Syrians? When in their whole history have these gov. did anything outside of their interests? In addition they have also supported the dictators the people are fighting. Do we have to wait until the Zionists are sitting right there on the table besides the new despots to wonder what went wrong? Do we need to reach that point? The US and its allies are basing their actions against Syria in the UN partly on false information; does that remind you of something? How about Iraq and its WMDs. Yes Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator and yes he killed his people but are the Iraqis well and happy now? Have we learned nothing from the woes of our brothers and sisters in Iraq?

Whatever is happening in Syria certain media has made a point of using  information which is not verified or lacks common sense for other reasons than just to support the supposed uprising of the Syrians. The people who follow closely these media need to take this into consideration.

Bahrain

Has anyone noticed any proper focus on the protests and uprising in Bahrain? Or how about the regime crimes: killings (Video, pictures (very graphic)), arrests, verdicts of execution, torture (1, 2), destruction of religious sites and mosques , intimidation of people , etc. (other crimes documented)? Don’t the people of Bahrain deserve freedom too? If anyone has an excuse that they don’t then this person doesn’t believe in freedom and is rather lying to him/herself. The reasons given by some not to support the people in Bahrain are nothing short of disgusting (sect related and being instigated by Iran). Whatever the reasons given there is no excuse for the actions of the regime and the GCC forces that invaded the country and violated numerous human rights laws. How about the destruction the mosques (some historical) and the burring/desecration of the Qur’an? This should be enough to make people flare up but where is the media when you need it? Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC Arabic, France 24, and a huge list of other media such as newspapers and websites are all owned by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, other gulf countries and their allies. The gulf countries are part of the GCC forces who invaded Bahrain with no good reason because that is not their purpose to begin with to interfere in an internal matter and aid the regime to do horrible crimes. Then it is clear why Bahrain is out of the picture and the anchors in these networks pretend nothing is happening over there, just mention what the Bahraini regime says or sometimes do reports not including all the information.

I support every call for reform and freedom, we all have to because they are a necessity and a human right. Yet, we can’t react to unreliable news. If those media were supporting the uprisings for real and not for some agenda for the country of origin then why the need to distort things? There is definably unrest in Syria and Bahrain, one is hyped and the other is hidden. We are damned if we don’t revolt because we will be left with the dictators and we are damned if we do because others will use it to push their plans. From a fellow Arab I really hope for a better tomorrow but being high on “freedom” doesn’t mean we close our eyes to what others are doing.

*Updated after some news was retracted

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9 responses to “Arab revolutions and uprisings: Beware of media disinformation

  1. AJ May 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks for the brilliant piece..

    It’s such an insult to one’s intelligence when the West claims to support the “pro-democracy” forces and the rights of human beings when they proudly boast of a coalition with the likes of Saudi Arabia – an autocratic tyranny – which is brutally beating to the ground the aspirations of the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain, and terrorising the residents of the Eastern Province.

    Democracy and rights? That’s the last thing the West is after. If anything, they’d rather say hegemony and oil-rights. But that doesn’t sound very noble!

    Syria is being targeted due to its support for the resistance-bloc, and its refusal to bow down to the thuggery of the West. Yes there are valid criticisms against the leadership in Syria, but Western and Saudi interference (through its Lebanese agents) leave little doubt as to what is being planned.

    At the beginning of your article you wrote: “The role of the media is to inform and to present events as they are”, over the last decade it has become crystal clear that there is one more function the western media specializes in: propaganda.

  2. realistic bird May 2, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks, yes I agree with what you said. Even though I wanted to exclude my political views in it but it is not possible when you see what is being done.

    Thanks again, hope you are well

    Wasalaam

  3. Derry Friends of Palestine May 3, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    excellent report!!! Shame other people are being fooled by all this. Israel must be so happy, every country that stands up against it will soon find itself in turmoil, how convenient at a time when the Palestinians will need support…

  4. realistic bird May 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Thank you for reading it! ❤

    Indeed, everything should be done for the sake "Israel's security". <_<

    tc

  5. Susan Safi May 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    THANKYOU Realistice Bird for your writing about Syria and the media. Please spread this around on the internet

  6. realistic bird May 8, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Thank you Susan, hopefully Syria will return soon to calm and be better than before. Also the ones who instigated strife are exposed so everyone knows what they were up to.

  7. peter rooney May 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Thank you for that informative and well reasoned viewpoint. I have to add that I check in to Al Jazeera ( english ) every day, several times a day and Bahrain is ‘covered’ every day, including the current scandal of the attacks on hospitals and schools. What confuses me is the attacks on Mosques and other Holy Places. From my own western perspective I can only guess that it’s a Saudi Sunni persecution of Bahraini Shia Islam and the Saudis are using Bahrain as a demonstration to their own people as to what they can expect if they ‘awaken’. To make matters worse they have recruited Pakistani police and army ‘recruits’ presumably Muslims, ( described as such by the Pakistani Military who deny ‘allowing’ or providing these recruits ) as mercenaries to attack Bahraini protestors. The sectarian divisions between sunni and shia muslims are an eternal ‘trap’ that will be used to undermine political reforms by the oppressors, the entire world can see this but from where I sit the Arab ‘revolt’ seems either complicit or blind to obvious attempts to steer protestors away from a reform agenda back to their divine ‘calling’ to wage holy war on each other.

  8. realistic bird May 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Thank you Peter for the insightful comment.

    Yes I agree with you, I have noticed that about Al Jazeera English so I have only focused on the Arabic one because it is the one seen by the Arab public. It was the cornerstone for information to what was happening in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya but then when it came to Bahrain and Syria something just went wrong. I follow some well-known political analysts in the region and the things they talk about when it comes to the political role of Qatar and its change in policy is an eye opener that could possibly explain the actions of Al Jazeera Arabic.

    If you know anything about Bandar Bin Sultan and some Al Saud officials the brutality in Bahrain doesn’t seem odd for the same things linked to them have been seen in Iraq, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. Recently they have been Egyptian talk that some of the clashes in Egypt may be linked to them. They even fund satellite channels that 24/7 spew nonsense about sectarianism and hating others, it is beyond insane. They even use some well known “scholars” to issue “fatwas” that have nothing to do with religion but rather with the amount of money given to these individuals. Now I hear they want to include Jordan and Morocco in their GCC union, kings/princes unite! They will do anything to remain in power.

    I have heard about the “recruits” from Pakistan, already Bahrain has forces based on people from other countries. It really doesn’t matter from what county they are or what religion; it is the mentality that is the problem that dehumanizes anyone who doesn’t bow to them, their money and power.

    The Sunni- Shia issue is just a tool to divide people and cause strife. Whatever causes people to fight they will use whether Muslim/Christian, secular/islamist, different tribes, ethnicity etc. I live in the region and people are aware of it and many don’t understand why some clashes even happen in the first place. The problem comes that not all people are aware of attempts to take over their reform calls and are led in the wrong direction.

    Thanks again

  9. Pingback: Media forgery: Videos claimed to be in Syria turned out to be false- Reuters & European media « Silver Lining

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