One-eyed media coverage of Syria

Orient Net - R. Sikora 2016-02-07 17:59:00

expressive image

Thanks to satellite technology, Syrians trapped in areas being subjected to starvation sieges being waged by the Assad regime have been getting quite a bit of news coverage in the past few months, not that it has done them much good. 

What is difficult for those of us who can do nothing but watch helplessly as people we have grown to love dearly waste away; and the most vulnerable --- infants, young children and the elderly --- die off one by one, is the media’s insistence on including the opposition as perpetrators of starvation tactics along with the Assad regime.

During an NBC News report broadcast on Friday, February 5, citizen journalist Dani Qappani spoke from inside Moadamiyeh on Skype about the dangerous medical conditions of some residents of the besieged city who are suffering from severe malnutrition as he sat at the bedside of a young boy whose father said he is too weak to get out of bed. 

The interview segment had been recorded a few days prior to airing and the interviewer once again felt the need to say, “Syrian opposition forces are doing the same thing to government strongholds.” 

What the broadcast failed to include was the fact that shortly after Dani spoke to NBC he managed to videotape Red Cross trucks delivering aid to Assad supporters in the regime controlled area in full view of starving civilians who had gathered on the opposite side of the regime checkpoint that keeps them imprisoned in the hopes of receiving anything to feed their own starving children. 

If the media actually believes Assad’s propaganda about the starvation sieges being mutual where is the proof? Why are we not seeing any evidence of starving people coming out of the areas that support Assad? Where are the photos? Where are the doctor’s reports? Where are the videos of skeletal children and elderly Syrians and records of the number of civilians who have died? 

All of those things have been unquestioningly supplied by the civilians living in areas under siege by the regime. When UN aid workers were finally allowed to deliver a meager amount of supplies to Madaya they spoke openly about the condition of the people they found there. They weighed and measured and formally documented the extent of the malnutrition they found. The Assad regime also denied their request to evacuate several hundred of the most life threatening cases and as a result the civilians in Madaya continue to die. 

If those things are truly happening in the regime controlled areas as a result of FSA sieges where is the evidence? 

Are they starving because they are not getting three full meals a day, or are they starving because it suits Assad’s purposes to say that they are and the media is allowing itself to be manipulated in the same way that the regime has been manipulating the UNHCR and the IRC?

In a statement issued Feb. 2, 2016, by the Free Syrian Army, and signed by more than two dozen different factions of opposition fighters, it was stated that they “regard all Syrian civilians as our own folk and people and see them as suppressed as we are under regime” and that they have made a “commitment not to use hunger against civilians and not to bombard them or target them as a tool of war.”

The FSA statement was created in response to UN Security Council resolution 2254 that demands that “all parties” allow humanitarian access to besieged areas implying that opposition fighters are guilty of using the same tactics against their own people that the Assad regime is using. 

The statement went on to clarify that the FSA has “never dealt with the Assad regime and their allies on the principle of ‘eye for eye’” and pointed out that there has never been any credible evidence that they have committed such crimes against their own people. 

The statement also made it clear that the very principles of freedom and justice and rule of law that they are fighting for hold them to a higher standard than the one held by the lawless regime that is willing to do whatever it takes to insure its own survival.

It is clear that Assad will go to any length to achieve his goal of remaining in power. He has destroyed the majority of Syria’s infrastructure and invited foreign factions into Syria to help him kill as many civilians as it takes to drive those he considers undesirable out of the country. As a result the entire world is paying the price for his self-serving agenda.  

What is truly astounding is how many media outlets are also allowing themselves to be used as a means to achieving his end.

Comments