According to the Pew Research Journalism Project, “the No. 1 message” on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Al Jazeera, is that “the US should get involved in the conflict in Syria”. But involvement requires a semblance of public consent and this is often achieved as the result of a singularly defining propaganda image or event, which is where the corporate mainstream media comes in. The central role played by the media is to act as collaborators to imperial power, by helping to circumvent international law as the precursor to bringing about regime change in the country.
These collaborators include Channel 4 News and BBC Newsnight. Both openly promote the White Helmets. The 4 October 2016 edition of Channel 4 News which focused a large segment of its programme to events in Syria – and included an interview with a leading White Helmets’ spokesman Ishmael al-Abdullah – was arguably among the most biased and distorted pieces of reportage ever seen on British television, amounting to blatant UK-US government propaganda.
Channel 4: propaganda as news
Channel 4 News reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, for example, described a rebel (terrorist) “victory” in east Aleppo as “rebels fighting back against the forces of President Assad”. Guru-Murthy reported the battle from the narrow perspective of the terrorists and it was clear from his general tone to whom he intended the viewer’s sympathies to be aligned with. Guru-Murthy’s embedded report also failed to mention that – as evidenced by the White Helmets logo clearly displayed on a jacket of one of the terrorists – that the self-proclaimed ‘humanitarians’ are inculcated with Salafist beheaders. In other words, Guru-Murthy failed to inform his viewers that the “moderate rebels” he was describing were in fact Harakat al-Nour al-Zenki, one of 22 brigades that operate in and around Aleppo that comprise one of many US State Department-funded terrorist fighters.
Finally, the Channel 4 reporter omitted to mention that a video had surfaced shortly before the broadcast of the report in which Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki members were shown abusing and beheading a child, Abdullah al-Issa, from a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Aleppo. Compare and contrast the lack of media coverage of this repugnant act, to the saturated coverage given to the small boy, Omran Daqneesh, photographed sitting upright on a chair after having allegedly been rescued from the rubble of Aleppo which brought a CNN newscaster to tears.
The impression given of “heroic” “rebels” retaliating against a ruthless and barbaric “regime” (the official enemy) in which only a select few “bad guys” do bad things to children, is a narrative that’s an inversion of reality familiar to anybody who has observed reportage from other conflict zones where Western imperialism is the core motive. The Channel 4 News bulletin, and others like the CNN coverage above, are full of such distorted reporting.
The persistent, persuasive and unrealistic Bana Alabed myth
All of the false propaganda cannot hide the fact that the Western and Gulf-state backed head-chopping Salafist terrorist “rebels” are being trounced by joint Kurdish-Syrian government forces who have liberated vast swaths of territory in east Aleppo including the Sakhour, Haydariya and Sheikh Fares neighbourhoods. In the wake of the liberation, which BBC Newsnight’s Mark Urban described as a scenario in which “things are stacking up against the armed opposition groups” (terrorists), at least 120 British MPs backed a petition calling for the UK Government to carry out “life-saving aid drops” over eastern Aleppo. Among those MPs demanding what is a euphemism for the implementation of a no fly zone, is Labour’s Emily Thornberry, who in the House of Commons cited the terrorist-enablers, the White Helmets, as the justification for advocating this course of action.
On the 28 November 2016 edition of Sky News, journalist Sam Kiley described the re-capture of a third of eastern Aleppo, not as a liberation but a “so-called liberation”, before stating that those liberated “fled into the arms of their tormentors – the Syrian regime”. Kiley’s source for this illogical narrative was Fatemah Alabed, mother of seven-year-old Bana Alabed. Bana, in whose name a Twitter account was set up in September 2016, allegedly in an “unknown eastern Aleppo neighbourhood” – and whose tweets have consistently focused on anti-Assad and anti-Russian themes and the need to be saved from bombing – has been uncritically endorsed throughout the corporate media. In fact, Bana has garnered celebrity status, her most notable fan being the author, J K Rowling.
Bana’s mastering of English idiomatic expressions on Twitter is indicative of somebody who is fluent in the language, but her prompted robotic responses to questions by Sky News presenter, Alex Crawford, among others, clearly suggests otherwise. In addition, the various inconsistencies in Bana’s Twitter feed narrative reinforce the notion that the seven-year-old’s account – given the number of tweets – is being run by others out of Aleppo for nefarious purposes. As Barbara McKenzie puts it:
There can be no doubt that the Bana project is a scam, like… the White Helmets. The tweets are not the thoughts of a little Syrian girl wanting the world to save her from Russian bombs. Rather, they are the product of a sophisticated and well-planned operation designed to shape public perception of the Syrian and Russian operations, in order to justify Western intervention in Syria and facilitate regime change.
Tormenting the liberated
The narrative of Syrian government and Russian forces “tormenting” the civilians they are liberating is a common one (see below). A similar inversion of truth was evident as part of a BBC Radio 4 news bulletin, in which the Syrian army were reported as having “recaptured key areas of rebel held east Aleppo.” The report continued:
Thousands of civilians have been forced to flee as besieged parts of the city came under intense attack by government troops.
However, the BBC deliberate inversion of the truth, like the false narrative of the Twitter feed propaganda of Bana, is intended to demonize the Syrians and Russians and thus give new meaning to the unfolding of events. In the BBC version, the liberation of 18,000 civilians in east Aleppo by Syrian and Russian forces from their Islamist fundamentalist captors, is translated as civilians being “forced” to “flee” east Aleppo due to this part of the city being “besieged” by government troops. The BBC are therefore attempting to dupe the public into believing that Syrian and Russian government forces, as opposed to Western-backed mercenary invaders, are the tormentors of the Syrian people.
This false, inverted, narrative has been repeated throughout the BBC coverage of Aleppo. For example, this is how a BBC World online headline reported the liberation of the Syrian people from the terrorists:
Jon Snow: a media apologist for Salafist beheaders
The perpetuation of this inversion of reality was also clearly the intention of the liberal-left’s favourite ‘pinko’ Channel 4 News journalist Jon Snow. In his attempt to confuse and disorientate the viewing public, Snow “interviewed” Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi on the 30 November 2016 edition of Channel 4 News. Describing Shehabi as a “regime MP” in the introduction, Snow proceeded to announce to his viewers with apparent authority and certainty, that Syrian and Russian government forces were responsible for “bombing civilians from the air with barrel bombs”, killing 45 of them as they attempted to flee to safety.
Snow’s evidence for this was that the al-Qaeda/al-Nusra Front propagandists, the White Helmets, who are embedded in terrorist-held eastern Aleppo, filmed what was purported to be the aftermath of the attack. Snow’s stenography underscored his subsequent unsubstantiated assertion that the Syrian civilian population “do not wish to live under Mr Assad, they do not wish to live under your [Assad’s] regime“ (note how Snow repeats the propaganda ‘trigger term’, “regime”). Shehabi responded to Snow’s unfounded claims by stating that Syria is not a regime “but a legitimate government fighting international terrorism.”
For a population that supposedly doesn’t want to live under a President who Snow claimed was responsible for bombing them, the reaction among the 18,000 civilians who have been liberated from terrorist controlled areas, belies that claim. The US State Department Spokesman who was filmed smirking as he blatantly lied about the situation in Aleppo as the video switches back and forth between these lies and the reaction of the people escaping eastern Aleppo, has not been shown on any Western news outlet that I am aware of. If the general public were to be made aware of the reactions of the Syrian people in the aftermath of their liberation, it would immediately bring the false propaganda perpetuated by the likes of Snow crashing down in flames.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Many of our people need it sorely on these accounts – Mark Twain.
A much needed corrective to the kinds of false propaganda highlighted above including the notion that the Syrian state is being run by an illegitimate “regime” as opposed to a legitimate “government”, was provided by members of the US Peace Council (USPC), a delegation of US citizens who had travelled throughout Syria during the summer of 2016 on a fact finding mission. The delegation, who paid their own way and were allowed to meet whomever they wanted, spent six days meeting with Syrian Government Officials including President Assad, union leaders, government opposition members as well as civil and business leaders, NGO’s, charities and universities.
Mark Twain’s famous aphorism, “What gets us into trouble, is that we think we know for sure, that just ain’t so”, might well be applied to journalists like Snow. USPC delegate Joe Jamison stated in the groups press conference:
Our delegation came to Syria with political views and assumptions, but we were determined to be sceptics and to follow the facts wherever they led us. I concluded that the motive of the US war is to destroy an independent, Arab, secular state. It’s the last of this kind of state standing.
By contrast to the medieval Wahhabist ideology, Syria promotes a socially inclusive and pluralistic form of Islam. We met these people. They are humane and democratically minded… the [Syrian] government is popular and recognized as being legitimate by the UN. It contests and wins elections which are monitored. There’s a parliament which contains opposition parties – we met them. There is a significant non-violent opposition which is trying to work constructively for its own social vision.
Countering the claim that what is happening in Syria is a “civil war”, another USPC delegate, Madeleyn Hoffman exclaimed:
It’s not Assad against his own people. It is President Assad and the Syrian people all together – in unity – against outside mercenary forces and terror organisations supported by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, and underneath it, the state of Israel… Assad has the support of 23 million of his people.
Snow won’t settle
Back in the Channel 4 News studio, a snarling Snow, who is clearly either ignorant to these facts, or refuses to believe them, looked on incredulously at his opposite number, the MP for Aleppo Shehabi, and continuing in no uncertain terms with his unsubstantiated allegations, stated:
Your own constituents, your own friends, have been killed by the government, flying planes, dropping barrel bombs.
It’s inconceivable that somebody like Snow would direct a similar line of aggressive questioning to, say, a French parliamentarian for speaking out against the terrorist threat posed by ISIS on the streets of Paris. But this precisely the terrorist-apologist approach Snow undertook in relation to Shehabi. It is also inconceivable that an establishment-embedded journalist like Snow would entertain the possibly that terrorists and Western-backed mercenaries, rather than Syrian government forces, could have killed 45 civilians as part of a credible false flag attack.
In response to Snow’s independently unverified claim that on 30 November 2016 “forty-five Syrian civilians had been killed by barrel bombs”, an increasingly frustrated Shehabi (clearly aware that he had been set up) effectively accused Snow of being an apologist for the head-chopping Salafist terrorists:
Look, if you are going to legitimize and beautify the existence of terrorist activity inside my city, you will not get any approval from me or any citizen in Aleppo.
It clearly hadn’t occurred to Snow that the rational explanation was that civilians were far more likely to have been killed by terrorists as they approached the safe haven corridor controlled by the Syrian army, than they were by Syrian “barrel bombs”. Seemingly undeterred, Snow continued to repeat similar soundbites to Shehabi as though the public at home watching needed to be reminded of the false propaganda one more time:
You are the MP for Aleppo. Your own constituents are dying from your own air force, and you don’t do anything about it. You don’t seem to care a damn about your own constituents.
Looking and sounding increasingly exasperated with Snow’s blatant one-sided line of aggressive questioning and baseless assertions, Shehabi responded angrily:
Listen, this is absolutely false. Our own civilians were being taken hostage, in the largest hostage-taking situation in the world by terrorists on the UN terrorist list.
Aleppo hospitals & the terrorist doctors
At this point Snow interrupted Shehabi while in full flow, clearly realising that such utterances of truth that have the potential of swaying public opinion towards the Syrian government position, cannot be tolerated by a British mainstream broadcaster. So Snow shifted the discussion towards another propaganda ‘trigger point’ – Aleppo hospitals. Apparently oblivious to the fact that the mainstream printed media have reported Russia’s alleged bombing of hospitals in eastern Aleppo on at least twenty separate occasions since 10 June, 2016, and that these hospitals have been turned into terrorist command centres and sniper towers, Snow snapped back at Shehabi:
Why do you bomb the hospitals in which your own constituents, your own civilians, are seeking aid to help them repair their wounds that your air force has inflicted?
Clearly, it also hadn’t occurred to Snow that evidence previously uncovered by Professor Tim Anderson, points to the likelihood that the Aleppo hospital claims are part and parcel of an imperialist smokescreen used to cover-up yet more terrorist massacres in Syria. Dr Hamza al-Khatib, who is regularly interviewed, uncritically, on Channel 4 News, seemingly after almost every alleged attack on an Aleppo hospital, was last credited with filming “new pictures inside [Aleppo]” for the news broadcaster. One of the images Khatib filmed was of cardiologist Dr Abo Zaid.
Independent investigative journalist John Delacour uncovered information from the Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office (RFS) which reveals that Zaid, as well as being a cardiologist, is also a legal advisor to the Syrian government opposition, the FSA. Neither this, nor the obvious conflict of interest issues that arose from Khatib-produced images, were explained during the Channel 4 News report. When Delacour asked Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent, Alex Thompson, on Twitter the reason why viewers were presented with a deliberately under-exposed, darkened image, of Zaid, Thompson’s “reply” was to block Delacour.
Waad & Alabdullah
The unsubstantiated claims that the Syrian regime kills its own civilians and bombs its own hospitals, isn’t restricted to Snow and Channel 4 News. But, as I have alluded to previously, is all-pervasive with the mainstream more broadly. To emphasize the point further, BBC Radio 4 The World at One, for example, also repeated the disinformation that the Syrian government kill people they were intent on liberating:
If any doubts remain that the corporate media’s intention is to attempt to legitimise, and apologise for, the terrorists in order to contribute to the broader Western goal of regime change, then Snow’s final remarks to Shehabi put these doubts to bed. Quoting a letter dated 29 November 2016, by journalist Waad al-Kateab who is inculcated with Amnesty International in Aleppo, reads like a contrived “suicide note”. Snow implied that al-Kateab’s life was under threat, not from terrorists, but from Syrian government forces.
Uttered in a doom-laden and solemn tone, Snow announced to his viewers the apparent danger al-Kateab faced as if it was the prelude to a requiem:
Tonight we heard Syrian army troops are closing in on the area of the city [Aleppo] where Waad lives.
Interestingly, Channel 4 News editor, Ben de Pear, wrote a prominent opinion piece published in the 1 December 2016 edition of The Guardian in which he reproduced the al-Kateab propaganda previously outlined by Snow.
So is al-Kateab’s account part of another elaborate media hoax? Given the dubious history of Amnesty International, and noticing an al-Qaeda flag pictured on al-Kateab’s Twitter page account (centre-left, ground), it seems highly likely. Below is the picture blown up with the black al-Qaeda flag clearly visible:
Meanwhile on the 28 November 2016 edition of BBC Newsnight, presenter Evan Davis “interviewed” the source for much media information gathering, the terrorist-enabler and propagandist, White Helmet al-Abdullah at some length. al-Abdullah, who has made frequent appearances on Channel 4 News and had been “interviewed” by Davis two months previously, claimed that the situation for the people in eastern Aleppo had got worse during that time, not as a result of the terrorists, but by Assad’s forces who he said “are massacring us and will continue to massacre us as long as the West fail to intervene.” The unsubstantiated and illogical claim that Syrian forces massacre those who rush into the arms of their liberators in the Assad-controlled west of the city, went unchallenged by Davis.
The Guardian & Independent
The propaganda, of course, is not restricted to the broadcast media. As Media Lens pointed out, it extends to the liberal-left broadsheets, too. The media commentators, on Twitter for example, described a recent Guardian editorial view that regurgitated the US-UK establishment narrative which the media analysts described, as “full-on propaganda, no balance. Srebrenica, Grozny, even Guernica. And Mu Laii, Fallujah, Tawegha, Sirte, etc?”
Once again,the inversion of reality is the order of the day as The Guardian’s editorial line led with:
As Assad’s forces, backed by the Russian’s, make their final move on Syria’s second city, the world can only count the cost of a humanitarian and military disaster it failed to stop.
Not to be outdone, the headline of The Independent, which echoed the false propaganda warning of the 2011 Benghazi massacre, read “Aleppo could witness one of the worse massacres since World War Two”. The sub-heading continued, “The ‘smell of blood’ is everywhere, doctor in besieged rebel-held area says, as Assad’s forces step up brutal final campaign before change in US administration”. Below this a video produced by the Wests terrorist collaborators, the White Helmets – who the paper also cite along with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (ie a man in a terraced house in Coventry, UK) – depicts the carnage the paper want their readers to believe was caused by the Syrian “regime”.
The UNSC ’emergency’
With the ‘threat’ of terrorist-held eastern Aleppo being fully liberated, Britain and France called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting on 1 December 2016, ostensibly with the aim of halting the offensive in the city to allow in humanitarian aid, but in reality to allow the terrorists to re-organize and re-arm. Consequently, this led to delegates trading accusations with one another, each side accusing the other of obstructing the process. British Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, for example, accused Russia of vetoing the Security Council “for finding the unity necessary to end this war”.
Recognising that the role of the permanent members of the Security Council was not merely to augment the interests of the US-led alliance, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin responded:
There’s no surprise it was France and the UK who have long and blatantly pushed for regime change in Syria and who have provided generous support for militants who initiated this meeting, pretending they are concerned with the situation in eastern Aleppo. This meeting was a desperate attempt to use the Security Council to save terrorists from the destruction in Aleppo.
US Ambassador Samantha Power repeated the independently unverifiable assertion that the problems were of Russia’s making as a result of their “systematic bombing of hospitals, schools and markets and the basis for the first responders” (ie the White Helmets). Churkin countered by claiming the US were using “humanitarian problems to advance or achieve political goals”. Power, on the other hand, criticised Russia for using its veto, effectively to protect what it perceives are its own interests. Power seemingly overlooked the fact that NATO had betrayed Russia in respect to Libya when the former ignored the latter’s decision to abstain on their vetoing of UNSCR 1973 by flattening the city of Sirte.
According to the text, UNSCR 1973 had:
the aim of facilitating dialogue to lead to the political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution [to Libya and excluded a] foreign occupation force of any form.
The abstaining by Russia of UNSCR 1973 was ignored by the Western alliance who criminally exploited the UN resolution by ensuring they achieved regime change in Libya, invoking the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Doctrine in order to justify it. Nevertheless, this didn’t prevent Barack Obama’s then Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, histrionically walking out in protest against Russia’s actions; a hypocritical decision given that Churkin’s statement, as former UK diplomat Craig Murray pointed out “was both plainly true, and an eminently foreseeable result of America’s own rash actions [in Libya]”.
What next for Syria?
Similarly, while clearly frustrated at Churkin’s subsequent exposition of Western hypocrisy in relation to Syria during last week’s emergency meeting, Power stated that the UN would consider the deployment of “other tools” at the UN, before proceeding to follow in the footsteps of her predecessor, by walking out of the room in a fit of rage. What these “other tools” were was not made clear by Power, but it would appear that, once again, this will probably involve the invoking of the R2P doctrine as the precursor to fully-fledged intervention by way of the implementation of no fly zones, and thus escalate the US-led war against the Syrian people.
The many subtle, and no so subtle, examples of media propaganda described, as well as the numerous illustrations of censorship by omission and US-UK deceptions and lies, highlight the systematic corruption at the heart of the elite media and political establishment, and their consolidated attempts at securing yet another Middle Eastern resource grab. As Mark Doran put it on Twitter:
Our corrupt politics, our international crime, and our ‘free media’ form a seamless whole.
It is this seamless whole that is responsible for the continued dismembering of Syria.