‘Huffpo’ finds guide to Arab public opinion… Vogue magazine

Writes a friend: I just had my sehri, and I’m ready to puke. At Huffpo, Elizabeth Kennedy has a piece on the Syrian uprising.

Until the uprising began, Assad had cultivated an image as a modern leader in a region dominated by aging dictators. He was seen around Damascus with his glamorous wife, Asma, who grew up in London and was the subject of a glowing profile in Vogue just before the protests erupted. The couple’s three small children added to their luster as youthful and energetic.

HUH? Who? What? Where? Modern leader among aging dictators? Who is this lady speaking to? She can’t be serious, she can’t possibly think that Arabs were happy about Assad, that he was some sort of beacon of light in a sea of darkness. Maybe for the West he was. Maybe for Vogue. Certainly, not for Syrians, not for Arabs. In fact, not even for non-Arab Muslims, as his father’s nasty legacy was remembered with curses and a reminder that an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Which Assad is proving to be true.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 16 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. James says:

    huffpo – another lame propaganda outlet…

  2. Brewer says:

    I recommend caution where reports coming out of Syria are concerned.
    Every single report of casualties I have read contains the phrase “activists said”. Lets face it, there are major riots all across England as we speak.

    Voltairenet has film of pro-government demos:
    link to voltairenet.org

    Franklin Lamb was in Damascus in May. Here is his report:
    link to intifada-palestine.com

    It looks very like Syria is getting the Iraq treatment – a concerted campaign to destabilis­e prior to “regime change” – complete with the obligatory “lesbian blogger” hoax.

    link to globalpost.com

    In the thick of it is The Reform Party of Syria – the source of the “poor farmers paid to protest” story.

    link to ref­ormsyria.o­rg

    The Reform Party of Syria is an enterprise set up by a “discredit­­­ed businessma­­­n from Virginia” who is “Syria’s version of Ahmad Chalabi”, Farid N. Ghadry, co-founder and current president of the Reform Party of Syria:

    link to www­.sourcewat­ch.org

    If Assad is a “brutal Dictator”, he is a new breed. I have seen a portfolio of him moving through huge crowds touching hands with no visible security men in sight. I shall try and dig it up.

    • Koshiro says:

      I’d recommend to everybody to do a google search on the Reform Party of Syria’s website with the terms “Israel” or “Palestinians”.

      One of the first articles I stumbled upon on their site when doing this was titled “Finally, A Hamas Leader Admits That Israel Killed Mostly Combatants In Gaza”. The title seemed vaguely familiar, and I now recall it was a fraudulent hackjob I had read before – on HuffPo actually, I think.
      Author: Alan M. Dershowitz.

      This is not an oddball article for them, by the way. The site is strictly pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian, entirely in sync with “moderate” American Zionists.

      P.S.: Also check out their “Authors we read” list.

      • Brewer says:

        Thanks for that Koshiro. I did as you suggest. This one had me rolling on the floor”

        “Syria Wins The Hypocrisy Award ”
        Author – Elliott Abrams!

        For anyone who doesn’t know this clown:
        “….Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.
        link to vanityfair.com

        “Public Serpent”
        link to terryjallen.com

    • MRW says:

      I agree with you, Brewer. This smells like a five-day-old tuna to me.

    • ToivoS says:

      If you want a sense for how difficult it is to get any real information about events in Syria I suggest you follow the Angry Arab blog. Khalil, who is from Lebanon and has friends in Syria, has no idea on what is happening. He does document a major propaganda war going on between the Syrian government, Syrian expatriots and the Saudi news media (along with their Lebanese allies).

      The short answer is that for us on the outside, we have no idea what is true or not. What is clear is that Assad has to go for his brutality and incompetence but no one should expect his replacement will be any better and maybe even worse.

    • kapok says:

      The ability for our media outlets to manipulate our minds(hell, all our parts) is a kind of psychological terror. Reminds one of cordyceps:
      link to neurophilosophy.wordpress.com

  3. Brewer says:

    Assad among the people:

    link to my.opera.com

    What can we make of reports that describe Syrian protesters as “mostly unarmed’?

    link to activistpost.com

    ….with machine guns:
    “The assault prompted opposition gunmen to fire machine guns and set police stations on fire.”
    link to news.sky.com

    Try taking a machine gun to a protest in Washington.
    Something is not quite right here.

  4. Koshiro says:

    Well, Assad is relatively secular. Since the current bogeyman is “Islamism”, a secular dictator, especially one who is young and looks and talks Western-ish, can easily look like the better alternative.

    To an extent, I share Brewer’s skepticism regarding Syria. In Tunisia and Egypt, we witnessed a genuine movement of the masses rise up against their rulers. In Libya and Syria, tribal/interest group conflicts seem to play a bigger role. It is indeed hard to judge this without better sources of information.

  5. Brewer says:

    Better links:
    Reform Party of Syria:
    link to reformsyria.org

    Farid Ghadry:
    link to sourcewatch.org

    File under “strange bedfellows”. Dissemblers like “Ambassador” Marc Ginsberg, Hillary Clinton and the usual Israeli suspects are all stumping for the insurgency …….alongside the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda:
    link to ocala.com

    “U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by WikiLeaks show”
    link to washingtonpost.com

  6. Debonnaire says:

    Wasn’t there a mention here not long back about how Arianna went into business with settlement building zionists?

  7. MRW says:

    Phil,

    I am hearing other things from my two Syrian friends. They are blaming Israel for a psychological campaign. They claim that Israel has already succeeded in getting America to even consider a Bomb Iran campaign, and they say this is a highly sophisticated setup to make Syria next, and part of their original plan. They also say that none of the real news is getting to these shores. Assad pere was one of the most astute politicians in the Middle East ever; talk to any US diplomat (or other) you like who worked in the region: when he took over in a coup at the beginning of the 70s, he got rid of the extremist military and Muslim factions and created a parliamentary system with elections in a nanosecond. He was an incredibly shrewd judge of character, and could smell subterfuge in his sleep (a phrase I heard from a US Foreign Service official in Morocco). The big fear when he died was that the son couldn’t measure up to him.

    I would be highly circumspect, if I were you.

  8. The situation in Syria: a first hand account
    link to theconversation.edu.au
    Emeritus Professor Brian Stoddart, former Vice-Chancellor at La Trobe University, returned recently from an extended assignment working with universities in Syria.

    Below is his account of his time in a country now racked by anti-government protests and simmering sectarian tension.

    Immediately before the current troubles visitors to Syria found both revelation and paradox. The revelation: a fascinating and richly historied place.

    The paradox: trying to match that place with western media imagery. Inevitably, though, visitors left bearing great affection for Syria and its peoples, one American friend impressed at the warmth of his reception despite the actions and accusations levelled at Syria by his country. That affection most likely now has been replaced by bewilderment.

    Most of those visitors were there for short periods, attracted according to one blogger by Syria’s exotic nature and its cheapness. For me, the spell was longer and more formal, working on a European Union-funded higher education development project (now suspended), reporting indirectly to a Minister now proscribed by the Americans.

  9. Rusty Pipes says:

    From an article that recycles most of the neo-con talking points about Syria that have been the staple of the media for years, not just during the Arab Spring, the only objection raised is that the article says something slightly positive about Europe’s perceptions of Bashar’s wife? That slightly positive paragraph is used within the article to highlight how Bashar’s image has taken a turn for the worse even among Europeans (among whom, he and his wife have some personal connections):

    International sanctions, some of which target Assad personally, have failed to persuade him to ease his crackdown. There had been hopes, since dashed, that European Union sanctions would prove a humiliating personal blow to Assad, a 45-year-old eye doctor who trained in Britain.

    Until the uprising began, Assad had cultivated an image as a modern leader in a region dominated by aging dictators. He was seen around Damascus with his glamorous wife, Asma, who grew up in London and was the subject of a glowing profile in Vogue just before the protests erupted. The couple’s three small children added to their luster as youthful and energetic.

    But the relentless military assaults on rebellious towns have only grown more deadly…

    Kennedy did not write the Vogue article — she cites it as one previous success Assad had achieved in cultivating a positive image among the easily deceived (like Europeans and shallow fashion magazine readers). But in true neo-con interpretation, Bashar can’t hide his real Assad-ness forever (because Arabs are all alike and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree):

    Syria has blocked nearly all outside witnesses to the carnage by banning foreign media and restricting local coverage that strays from the party line, which states the regime is fighting thugs and religious extremists who are acting out a foreign conspiracy.

    Besides the secretly recorded videos that leak of Syria every day and accounts by witnesses who whisper down telephone lines, Assad has managed to keep the eyes of the world off his bloodied nation.

    The reality in Syria is that there are a mix of people and groups involved in the opposition. Some of them are indeed as Bashar has described (we even have one guy dubbed “The Syrian Chalabi” getting funds from the Defense of Democracies). Syria has long had good reason to point to foreign conspiracies even before PNAC put Syria on its hit list. But there are also real average citizens who are involved in the protests. Assad has portrayed all the protesters as conspiracists. Our MSM has portrayed them all as non-violent freedom fighters and given them overwhelming coverage — especially on days that Israel has committed a new atrocity.

    Here’s my yardstick: the genuine protesters’ top demand is reform; the “conspirators’” top demand is Assad’s ouster. As is often the case, the best coverage I’ve heard of Syria has been on Democracy Now.