Many have asked me to give a briefing on Syria because I am here in person. Well, here is that briefing, in a VERY simple way.
To many people, the war in Syria is just another Arab Awakening. Being in the country myself, I realize that this is not at all the case. There are at least three conflicts going on:
- A true Arab Spring involving young liberals regardless of religious backgrounds, demanding regime reform and democracy.
- A war between two Islamic sects, the Alawite government and the Sunni opposition.
- A political game with hidden agendas among the big boys (US, EU, Iran, Israel and Saudi).
Mainstream media in the West seems more likely to feature war number 1 and manipulate war number 2 to the advantage of war number 3. Those representing the opposition who appear on CNN and BBC look liberal, westernized and almost victimized.
Next, the media backed by (Sunni) Saudi will call for jihad to provoke war number 2. I saw with my own eyes an opposition’s channel broadcasting from Saudi called “Sunni blood as one.” Note that the Syrian president is not a Sunni Muslim; he is from Alawite, a small sect of Islam.
Last, micro media — social media (blogs, Twitter, forums…etc) and word of mouth will keep circulating around zillions of conspiracy theories and guesswork about war number 3. For example, one of them I have heard: “The West does not want to topple the government; they just want to keep Syria in conflict to the point that it would benefit Israel and weaken Iran, who is Syria’s big ally.”
In this age when images and video clips dominate and cloud our thinking, one easily loses the big picture and falls victim to the vivid power of visual effect. As a good Cultural Detective, please pay attention to hidden biases.
As a journalist, I have the power to CHOOSE what to report. Is there something called “complete objective journalism”? I doubt it.
I have seen demonstrations for and against the regime. Which one would I report? Most secret journalists in Syria would choose to capture the opposition because they and their news (sub)consciously support wars number 1 and 3.
I’ll make a counterbalance here to share with you a view on war number 2. This is the picture of the regime’s supporters who gathered to celebrate with cheerful music and dance. Quoting a local from the crowd: “To be honest, our president is not perfect. But between him and the Sunni extremist opposition, I would go for the lesser of the two evils.”