The Syrian Civil War and the Media Propaganda Offensive

‘Free Syrian Army’ soliders just over the border from Turkey in December

The ‘Free Syrian Army‘ – the so-called ‘rebel’ group armed and funded by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – is involved in a violent insurgency against the Syrian government. That is not just my opinion, it is the view of the Arab League observer mission sent into the country to gather evidence against the ruling Assad regime. But when reports didn’t fit the political agenda, the League pulled the plug on the mission, and the Syrian government was subtlely blamed.

Of course, you don’t hear anything of the mission’s report on BBC or other corporate news sources. Instead, Assad is portrayed as leading an indiscriminate slaughter in the ‘rebel’ stronghold of Homs. Today, BBC reported that “15 people had died as tanks and artillery continued to bombard the city of Homs”. It didn’t mention how many were on each side, or even that there are sides. The implication was that the Syrian government had done all the killing.

And maybe they had. After all, Assad is a brutal dictator, and he does carry out atrocities against the Syrian people. But then we are now almost a year into an armed insurgency, so how do we expect him to react? How would David Cameron react if ‘rebels’ armed by Norway and Denmark were holding Glasgow? In its willingness to cheerlead for NATO ‘intervention’ – i.e. a western-led bloodbath – the oh-so-conservative media finds itself supporting insurrection.

Ten days ago, I described how:

“The past couple of months have seen a sustained effort to create a pretext for attacking Syria. The Syrian government – like the Libyan Gaddafi regime before it – is currently undertaking a brutal crackdown on the “rebel” movement which emerged from last year’s ‘Arab spring’. Of course, the same could be said of the Bahraini government for example, but Bahrain is an American ally. So the Obama administration is using its Arab League proxies – each of which receives large foreign aid and military assistance from US imperialism – to give the coming military intervention a regional popularist colouring.”

Since then, Russia and China have vetoed a UN resolution on Syria, which they feared could provide a figleaf for NATO aggression, much as the equivalent did with Libya last March. In response, the US, UK and French governments denounced Russia and China in the strongest terms, with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague describing the veto as the UN’s “hour of shame”, and rhetorically asking “How many more need to die before Russia and China allow the UN Security Council to act?” Unsurprisingly, no-one asked Hague how many times the US and UK have vetoed UN resolutions on Israeli aggression in Palestine and elsewhere. The answer is nearly fifty.

Foreign Secretary William Hague is guilty of gross hypocrisy over Syria

The NATO aggressors are waiting to make their next political move, but plans for a war on Syria are already well advanced. At the beginning of the week, the Pentagon announced they were beginning an “internal review” of military options, although Ambassador Susan Rice told CNN the focus was on exhausting all other means of change first. This pretence is crucial for the US, because it is relying on Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar for armed support, and does not want to inflame opposition in client states unneccessarily.

Meanwhile, an unnamed State Department official told the Daily Telegraph that “the international community may be forced to ‘militarise’ the crisis in Syria” and that “the debate in Washington has shifted away from diplomacy.” In turn, the Telegraph surmised that “Any plan to supply aid or set up a buffer zone would involve a military dimension to protect aid convoys or vulnerable civilians.”

But according to Israeli intelligence website Debka-File, both British and Qatari special forces are already “operating with rebel forces under cover in the Syrian city of Homs just 162 kilometers from Damascus… Our sources report the two foreign contingents have set up four centers of operation—in the northern Homs district of Khaldiya, Bab Amro in the east, and Bab Derib and Rastan in the north. Each district is home to about a quarter of a million people.”

In this context, the BBC and other bleeding heart western journalists embedded with the ‘Free Syrian Army’ are therefore providing a vital propaganda role in their deception. They are preparing the public consciousness for yet another ‘humanitarian’ war. As with Libya last year, it is necessary for communists to reject the false choice between the Syrian regime and the so-called ‘rebels’. Instead, we must argue for the interests of the Syrian – and indeed the international – working class.

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