26 Jul 2012

Behind the scenes of Syria’s propaganda war

It is now a week since the battle for Damascus was joined and then subsequently lost by rebel forces. But not lost completely. And not lost forever. Fighting still continues in some pockets of the suburbs. And winning the battle is not winning the war as everybody recognises.

The war which is being won however is the video war – the propaganda war. And it seems to be the rebels who are winning it hands down. They may not be succeeding in Idlib, Aleppo, Damascus or Homs militarily, but you would scarcely know that from the videos of this war available to the human race.

In Damascus however, they simply do not get it. All our requests to spend some time with the Syrian army have met with stares of blank incredulity, we might as well ask for snowfall in this city.

Now whether this is simply because of the Stasi-like culture of secrecy with which this entire country is imbued under the House of Assad, or whether it’s a real indication of fatal chaos within the regime, is genuinely impossible to say.

It could well be a lot of culture and a dash of chaos and I suspect that is where the answer lies.

It could be significant strategically. An inability competently to get your message across in a time of war is something that matters, more in this century than any other.

Foreign interference fuelled by sectarianism

And the regime certainly has a case in some respects. Of course there is foreign interference. From Sunni Saudi Arabia and Sunni Qatar – pushing money at the Sunni Syrian rebels 24/7. When it comes to freedom and human rights neither country is at the party, in any sense.

Saudi Arabia‘s violent, sectarian conduct during the Arab Spring uprising has been appalling and so too, the west’s condoning of it. Having invaded Bahrain to repress the Shia uprising there, Saudi – with Qatari help – now funds the Sunni uprising in Syria. Not in the name of freedom of course but in the name of religious and sectarian intolerance at the end of the day – of jihad.

Damascus knows what it means when the two Wahhabist countries of the Arabian peninsular line up their money to overthrow you. And be in no doubt it is not about the spread of love, peace, freedom and democracy as the west would understand it.

Yet the west prattles on about freedom and meekly refuses to point out the sectarian nature of what is clearly happening here, alongside the genuine struggle or freedom.

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