Like Trump, you can dislike Bashar, dislike the Syrian system, and support the need for reform without allowing yourself to be sucked into this vortex of dishonesty put out by a media accusing everyone else of publishing fake news.
By Jeremy Salt
We are witnessing the rapid death of the ‘western’ mainstream media, over Russia, Trump and Syria. It has not just shot itself in the foot, which it has done many times before, but now has put a bullet through its head and what passes for its brain.
This is not homicide but suicide. Here are recent milestones on the way to the media’s end times:
- Over Russia, the repetition of Obama and Clinton’s lies that Russia interfered in the elections. They have no evidence at all despite what the Washington Post, the New York Times, the London Guardian and countless other ‘news’ sources are trying to tell you.
- Over Trump, by mounting the most vicious campaign ever directed against an American political candidate. You don’t have to like Trump, you can even hate him, to see what they are up to. The vilification began when he announced his candidacy for the Republican primaries, and continued to build up from there, reaching a near-hysterical fever pitch during the last stages of the presidential campaign. At the same time the media protected Clinton, effectively throwing itself behind her campaign. It was so blatant it probably did her more harm than good. It failed because the public already knew what the media was trying to hide. The liberal media has had a collective nervous breakdown and has joined the Stein-Clinton-Obama campaign to derail Trump even before he is inaugurated. This is a shameful and shameless performance by people calling themselves journalists. They are, but only in the Goebbels school of journalism.
- Over Syria, by telling lies for five years, capped off with the torrent of untruths told about Aleppo at the moment of its liberation. This grotesque misreportage is one of the greatest propaganda barrages we have ever seen and that includes the lies told over Iraq, Libya, Iran and of course – endlessly – over Israel and Palestine. Newspapers holding themselves as beacons of liberal opinion have turned out to be no more than stalking horses for governments engaged in yet another campaign to destroy an Arab government. Like Trump, you can dislike Bashar, dislike the Syrian system, and support the need for reform without allowing yourself to be sucked into this vortex of dishonesty put out by a media accusing everyone else of publishing fake news.
Of the ‘quality’ press, the Washington Post and the London Guardian are about the worst. They threw themselves behind the campaign to destroy the Syrian government six years ago, supporting ‘moderates’ who specialize in decapitation, assassination, mass murder and chemical weapons attacks. Even as Aleppo was being liberated, the Guardian was quoting a spokesman for the Nur al Din Zinki Brigade, whose smiling members were recently involved in sawing off the head of a young Palestinian boy in the back of a pickup truck. It was this unimpeachable source which the Guardian reported as accusing the Syrian army of atrocities. The Guardian reported an evacuation as beginning when the bulk of the people trapped in east Aleppo had already been freed. The people it was reporting as being evacuated were the remaining takfiris and their families, along with the ‘activists’ and White Helmet propagandists embedded with them.
There is not one paper or television station in the mainstream that has even tried to honestly report what is going on in Syria. The truth they do not want you to know is that the ‘uprising’ was violent from day one; that there are no ‘moderates’ among the so-called rebels; that not only are they not interested in democracy, they are violently opposed to it; that the people of Aleppo, apart from anywhere else, never wanted these ‘rebels’ in their city in their city in the first place; that many if not most came from outside and included jihadists who were not even Syrian but, for example, the Chechens in east Aleppo who kidnapped and are presumed to have murdered two orthodox prelates; and that outside governments, the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have funded and armed these ‘rebels’ all along. These governments are the true architects of the destruction of Syria and the media is their handmaiden.
About 1.5 million people live in western Aleppo, constituting two thirds of the city, fully functioning, with schools open and hospitals fully staffed. Several thousand takfiri jihadists, committed to destroying the secular Syrian state, and committed to their harsh and violent interpretation of sharia law, were holed up in the east. Their greatest defensive asset was the people, probably less than 100,000 of them, not 200,000 or 300,000, the figures the media were given by ‘activists’ embedded with these gangs. The takfiris knew the army would not launch a full-scale assault because of the danger of heavy civilian casualties. In the last six months the Syrian government opened humanitarian corridors which the people could not use because they were shot at by the rebels. This was reversed in the media: having opened these corridors so the people could get out, apparently it was the Syrian army that was shooting at them.
Now the city has been fully liberated even more lies are being told. Children are being executed. Even cats and dogs are being killed. Civilians are in despair. The media plays up all of this while refusing to publish the reality, which is that with the city cleared, the whole of Aleppo erupted in jubilation. Thousands of people ran wild in the streets, flying the Syrian flag, firing rifles into the air in celebration, chanting ‘Allah, Freedom, Bashar.’
What also has not been shown is what the army found in buildings abandoned by the armed gangs: a mass of weaponry, machinery for making weapons, chemical weapons material, a torture and execution chamber complete with chains and nooses hanging from the ceiling and the administrative records of the takfiri gangs holding eastern Aleppo to ransom. What is going to emerge in coming months is stories from the newly liberated Aleppans of torture and indiscriminate killing by their captors but don’t expect to see these in your ‘free’ press. These stories are already been told but you are not hearing of them.
Not only is the media publishing outright lies it is going quiet about recent developments that should be causing outrage, including:
- The decision of the US Congress, ratified by Obama and taken on the eve of the final liberation of Aleppo, to provide the ‘rebels’ with weapons that will include Manpad shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. The US admitted long ago that there are no ‘moderates’ in the ranks of the ‘rebels.’ It has admitted that it cannot control where the weapons it gives the ‘rebels’ end up. While it is now openly supplying the ‘rebels’, Saudi Arabia and other countries have been supplying the ‘rebels’ with US weapons despite ‘end user only’ arms export controls. The US administration has ignored the violation of these regulations. The missiles will enable the ‘rebels’ to shoot down Russian and Syrian planes and will expose commercial airliners to attack.
- The recapture of Palmyra (Tadmur) by the Islamic State. There have been many clear signs of coordination in the past between the US and the Islamic State. The must have known that Islamic State fighters were advancing on Mosul from Raqqa in June, 2014, two years ago. This is flat terrain and a line of pickup trucks throwing plumes into the sand could have been seen by the naked eye let alone picked up by a satellite and drone surveillance network. The seizure of Mosul and the seizure of an enormous mass of war material conveniently solved the problem of how to arm the people the US was supporting behind the fog of rhetoric about the ‘war on terrorism.’ It then stood by as the Islamic State seized the western Iraqi city of Ramadi in the same way and stood by again as it moved on to take the Syrian city of Palmyra. It is not even plausible to suggest that the US could not see and did not know what was happening and could not have obliterated these columns of pickup trucks from the air or when they were parading in long columns through the streets of these occupied cities.
- Palmyra was seized by 4000-5000 Islamic State takfiris pouring towards the city from Raqqa, Deir al Zor and possibly Mosul, which is ringed by US and allied troops except for a western corridor leading across the Syrian border. What other reason could be there for this corridor being left open except for the takfiris to use it? This was a mass assault which the 1000 Syrian troops based in or around Palmyra could not repel, so they withdrew. Given that the Islamic State is besieged in Raqqa, Deir al Zor and Mosul, how could this have happened without coordination at some level or a green light being flashed to the takfiris by the US? Russia is suggesting that the US eased up on the siege of Raqqa (such as it is), in particular, to allow the Islamic State to redirect fighters towards Palmyra. The timing is all-significant: the seizure of Palmyra was the counter-strike to the liberation of Aleppo.
- Bear in mind that weeks ago the US and its allies (including Australia) bombed a Syrian army position outside Deir al Zor, allowing the Islamic State to retake it. Between 60 and 100 Syrian soldiers were killed and hundreds wounded. The claim that this was a ‘mistake’ is another lie. The US prepares for attacks well ahead of time with drone surveillance and along with the intelligence it already had, it would have known that this was a Syrian army base and not an Islamic state position as it claims to have thought. The attack ended the ceasefire, weakened the Syrian army’s position around Deir al Zor and correspondingly strengthened the Islamic State. The strengthening of the Islamic State’s position in eastern Syria dovetails with a US Defense Intelligence Agency memorandum, released in 2012 and stating that the establishment of a ‘salafist’ state in eastern Syria would suit US interests.
Bear in mind yet again that during the war on terrorism the US was supposed to be fighting in Iraq the Islamic State had hundreds of tankers lined up in the western Iraqi desert to transport oil to Turkey. The proceeds were a mainstay of its finances. The US clearly knew these trucks were they, clearly knew they were transporting oil to Turkey but did not touch them. It was Russia that eventually put them out of action.
What comes out of all of this is, behind the screen of propaganda, is that while declaring war on the Islamic State in Iraq, the US and its allies appear to be using it in Syria. After all, it is the most credible fighting group at their service. With other takfiri groups weakened across the country, the Islamic State becomes more important in the war still being waged by the US and its Middle East ‘allies’ against the government in Damascus, and behind it, against Iran and Hizbullah, in sum the ‘axis of resistance.’ Over and above all of this, is the proxy war being fought against Russia which foiled the US in the Ukraine and now cannot be allowed to score another significant victory in Syria, with spill-on effects across the Middle East and around the world.
None of this is even being raised in your media mainstream. You the viewer or reader have been fed lies for five years over Syria. You were fed lies over Libya and lies over Iraq. You were fed lies over Vietnam. On the issues of war and peace, you are always being fed lies. Your mainstream media is a propaganda conduit turning out the journalistic equivalent of raw sewage. If it is not prepared to fix itself, to return to the traditional canons of good journalism, i.e., honest and fearless reporting, it will deserve to die. At the moment it is a toxin poured every day into the lives of millions of people, filling them with untruths, justifying the present war and preparing them for the next one. If its public standing has never been lower, it only has itself blame.
– Jeremy Salt taught at the University of Melbourne, at Bosporus University in Istanbul and Bilkent University in Ankara for many years, specializing in the modern history of the Middle East. Among his recent publications is his 2008 book, The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.