ABOVE IMAGE: EVA BARLETT. SIMPLE DECENCY AND A LOVE OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE DRIVES HER.
Eva Bartlett is a Canadian journalist who has been researching the Syrian conflict since its beginnings, and has been there personally four times, even paying for her own traveling expenditures. Her reporting is at odds with what we hear and read on the BBC or the Guardian, not to mention the shamelessly Orwellian American media, or what other sources on the ground, like the White Helmets, have to say.
As far as the Western ‘corporate’ media is concerned, what is happening in Syria is basically the outcome of a civilian uprising, part of the “Arab Spring”, which started in 2011 in a town called Daraa, where some kids painted a wall with slurs against Bashar al-Assad, which in turn generated a violent reaction from the “regime’s” armed forces, all of which then led to an armed civilian response to topple Assad, supposedly an autocrat widely hated by his own people due to their lack of political freedom.
Many of the components of this narrative have been subjected once and again to questioning: who are those boys? There is no solid information regarding that. Was the uprising ‘civilian’ and ‘peaceful’ from the start? Unlikely, as we will show. Is Assad hated by the Syrians? Most definitively not, at least not by the majority. What is the role and true objectives of the US, and its Western and Middle East allies, in the uprising and ensuing war?
All of these questions have been answered by serious investigators of impeccable credentials, among them Tim Anderson, Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett. All of them are independent journalists and scholars not working for major corporate news media outlets. Their findings strongly contradict the mainstream media narrative, but there is no space in this article to examine all of them in depth.
Instead we will focus on how mainstream media’s narrative regarding Syria and other conflicts in the Middle East are basically a self-serving construct made up by a self-serving apparatus that violently smears any kind of dissident voices.
Shopworn fairy tales
If we take a look at available documents and search for what is missing in the bigger picture of Syria and the Middle East, we find that these ‘civilian uprising’ themes are no more than a fairy tale used over and over before in many scenarios to excuse ‘humanitarian’ invasions and regime changes.
The most recent prior to Syria is probably Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and murdered by a shady group of insurgents with al-Qaeda ties after NATO forces established a ‘no fly-zone’. This case was thoroughly revisited by many investigations, among them one by the UK Parliament. Their findings are clear as the blue skies of summer:
No accurate intelligence. The threat to civilians by the regime was overstated. The terrorist component in the insurgency was not taken in consideration. No measures were taken to guarantee the safety of civilians during and after the intervention, said to be ‘humanitarian’ in essence.
Personal gain (or, Libyans can go to hell). One of the reasons for Sarkozy to topple Gaddafi was: “A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production”. Nothing is mentioned on his preoccupation for Libyans, the final result, today’s failed Libyan State and widespread violations of human rights are a direct consequence of “a limited intervention to protect civilians drifted into a policy of regime change by military means”. (House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. Libya: Examination of intervention and collapse and the UK’s future policy options. Third Report of Session 2016-17)
Going back to Syria, a Department of Defense document, declassified by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2014 states clearly that the US Government had knowledge (at least as early as in 2012) of al-Qaeda In Iraq, (or AQI) being part of the insurgency and supporting itfrom the beginning. Another piece of declassified information establishes:
“IF THE SITUATION UNRAVELS THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME”. (Emphasis added)
It also mentions how Libyan arsenals were shipped from the Libyan chaos after Gaddafi´s murder, to fuel the Syrian uprising, which gave the upper hand to extremists in Syria, already supported, from the beginning, by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
“During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the (Qaddafi) regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The Syrian ports were chosen due to the small amount of cargo traffic transiting these two ports. The ships used to transport the weapons were medium-sized and able to hold 10 or less shipping containers of cargo”. (Judicial Watch. JW v DOD and State 14-812 DOD Release 2015 04 10, page 289. Judicial Watch, 18/05/15)
The information above would, at the very least, make any serious journalist reconsider the basic elements of the mainstream narrative, since again we have a group of elements being repeated almost exactly from Libya to Syria:
A purely ‘civilian’, grassroots uprising with no jihadi elements or foreign players.
A hated dictator.
Unprovoked State violence.
Dire need of the civilian victims for foreign help and ‘humanitarian intervention’.
We are only showing a comparison with Gaddafi’s Libya because it’s recent and part of the same geopolitical strategy, as all this US/Gulf countries sponsored extremists are moving all across the region imposing chaos and brutality. But the situation in Syria could be closely compared to many other conflicts where the ‘bad guy’ is tormenting its subjects or neighbors, torturing people, getting rich in the process and laughing at the inability of the Western powers to do anything.
At the same time, the media’s role is also patterned: demonization of the target leader, ‘official’ narrative taken as the only possible truth, the suffering of civilians reported as being caused only by the regime, the whitewashing of insurgent crimes, the obscuring of foreign meddling, etc.
There is no mystery in mainstream media bias
Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky wrote the seminal “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” 28 years ago, in 1988. We can’t say this work, which describes a structural bias in journalism explained by its corporate nature, was welcomed by the mainstream media, their directors and journalists, much less their owners. Even as many academics and educators have found it to be a very valuable analysis of its nature, with many fundamental social consequences, this work isn’t included in the curricula of most universities teaching communications, at least to my knowledge (having a BA in communications, myself).
This is absolutely predictable, why would the mainstream media acknowledge a flaw it cannot fix? Its purpose isn’t information, very far from it; it exists first and foremost to create profits for their owners and to serve their broader goals, as the propertied class. It also thrives on certain political and economic consensus, therefore its support for certain policies is pretty much guaranteed. To accomplish this, it is absolutely necessary to overlook certain information, which other sources and journalists, not compromised with corporate media’s priorities, will definitively take into consideration.
Stenographers to power
But this isn’t a struggle for truth, and perhaps independent journalism isn’t grasping this at all. Mainstream media will continue its biased form of pseudo journalism as long as people are listening, not until someone or a group of people show those working in their ranks as basically lying in the service of power. People are still listening, and although we know that trust in the MSM (mainstream media) is fading away fast, corporations will continue to find thousands of people willing to report supinely about Syria and elsewhere, and to conveniently avoid and often actively neutralize the extensive work of intellectuals like Michael Parenti, Edward Herman, Noam Chomsky, David Cromwell, David Edwards, Herbert Schiller, Alex Carey and James Petras, among many others who have shown in detail how mainstream media is structurally biased in favor of elites and corporate power. (The late Alex Carey was among the earliest analysts in the field, with Schiller. His normative Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty (History of Communication), just about says it all in its very title).
Dilly Hussain ‘debates’ Eva Bartlett on RT
RT.com, which is usually not afraid to present truly opposing views, even if one side is known to the information channel to be nothing but a propagandist for imperial crimes, recently featured a debate on the subject of Aleppo. The panel had Eva Bartlett pitted against one Dilly Hussain, if nothing else a well coached model of impudence. The exchange soon got heated.
After a set of valid questions regarding his sources in Syria, Dilly Hussain answered Eva Bartlett obliquely: “It’s a shame that you (RT) brought Miss Bartlett, who presents herself as an independent journalist, she is neither independent… or qualifies as a journalists, she is a grade-A conspiracy theorist for the Assad regime and for the Russian regime”. When asked about the killing of innocents by the opposition forces, the “fabled moderate rebels” of Washington’s coinage in Aleppo, he just fired back: “What are your sources on this, the regime?” as if implying the phenomenon of civilian killings by any other force than Assad’s is somehow unbelievable. This pretty much sums up his approach to all the questions on the table.
It is clear, therefore, that everything outside the official narrative must be regarded as a case of idiotic or malicious “conspiracy theory”, and any journalist not repeating what you could read on the mainstream media, as Dilly Hussain does, must be a “propagandist”. Hussain had nothing to show as proof for any of his talking points except some activist tweeting and videos, supposedly from Aleppo. But for some reason unknown to any impartial viewer, his sources are valid by definition, while Eva’s are not, and, even worse, she is not a journalist!
Hussain is also convinced that you cannot compare the objectivity of Russia Today (RT) with the BBC because the former ‘obviously pushes Russian propaganda’, while the BBC, for example, has courageous journalists ‘grilling’ UK politicians, as Jeremy Paxman ‘grills’ Cameron or Blair. Besides the glaring fact that the BBC is also a government-owned franchise, and no one seems to have a problem with that, this terrible example is better understood under the healthy critique of UK watchdog MediaLens:
“In an interview last week, Jeremy Paxman – leading interviewer on BBC 2’s flagship Newsnight programme – claimed that he had been “hoodwinked” by US government propaganda prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Paxman commented:
“When I saw all of that, I thought, well, ‘We know that Colin Powell is an intelligent, thoughtful man, and a skeptical man. If he believes all this to be the case, then, you know, he’s seen the evidence; I haven’t.’” (MediaLens. The BBC’s Jeremy Paxman on Iraq – “We were hoodwinked”. 11/06/09)
But let’s go back to the basic narrative behind Hussain’s point of view. The basic element is that the insurgents are not terrorists, there are terrorists inside Syria and Aleppo but they are a minor force not tainting the opposition’s struggle for freedom. Otherwise the regime´s efforts to regain Aleppo would be totally legitimate, since they would be fighting terrorist forces taking a city hostage.
This piece of disinformation is again based on overlooking key reports and documents available even to mainstream media readers, that state clearly that the extremist forces took over the opposition in Syria long ago (if they were ever second in charge).
Let’s take a look at some reporting by the ‘agenda setting’ media:
‘Mr. Lister (Middle East Institute in Washington) and other analysts said the vast majority of the American-vetted rebel factions in Aleppo were fighting inside the city itself and conducting significant bombardments against Syrian government troops in support of the Qaeda-affiliated fighters carrying out the brunt of front-line fighting.
“The unfortunate truth, however, is that these U.S.-backed groups remain somewhat dependent upon the Al Qaeda linked groups for organization and firepower in these operations,” said Genevieve Casagrande, a Syria research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington’. (Saad & Barnard. Syrian Rebels Launch Offensive to Break Siege of Aleppo. New York Times, 10/28/16) (Emphasis added)
This isn’t coming from some despicable ‘regime’ but instead from Washington think tanks and the “newspaper of record”.
The reports abound:
“Nusra’s hand is felt most strongly in Aleppo, where the group has set up camp in a former children’s hospital and has worked with other rebel groups to establish a Shariah Commission in the eye hospital next door to govern the city’s rebel-held neighborhoods…”
“Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.
Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of”. (Hubbard, Ben. Islamist Rebels Create Dilemma on Syria Policy. New York Times, 04/27/13)
Perhaps Hussain and other supporters of the opposition dismissed these sources and reports as propaganda/ conspiracy theory.
In any case, what should we desire for Syria? Hussain never tells. A Salafist government in the guise of Saudi Arabia? What kind of future could the Syrians expect from those already setting up Sharia law courts and beheading people on the streets? Would they establish a secular government respectful of the many religions and ethnicities in Syria?
Is defending the Syrian government sovereignty and questioning the legitimacy of the opposition a dismissal of the suffering of innocent civilians, killed and uprooted by the many sides of this conflict?
Finally, there was another attack on Eva Bartlett, this time by Channel4. It’s clear this media organ, managed by shameless propagandists, went all out to besmirch Eva Bartlett’s testimony, printing a literal point by point “refutation” of her assertions. When it comes to disinformation, the Brits are peerless in their mendacious fury. Below, Bartlett’s side questioning the authenticity of this event, and the putative heroism of the White Helmets:
To which Channel 4 most gallantly and helpfully added this comment:
The suggestion here is that the White Helmets filmed the same child – presumably some kind of actor – at three different locations, presumably to exaggerate the effects of regime bombing, or to fake attacks altogether.
This is almost certainly nonsense. Here’s why.
The dates mentioned in this photo montage are roughly accurate.
The girl in the top half of the picture was photographed on 27 August by Abdalrhman Ismail, a Reuters photographer who has been working on the front line of the Syrian conflict for three years.
The shots show an unnamed girl and two other children supposedly being rescued from rubble by White Helmets.
Mr Ismail shot the girl alone and with other children, along with many other survivors of two airstrikes that hit the Bab al-Nairab district of Aleppo.
Two barrel bomb strikes on that neighbourhood on that day were very widely reported. The attack that day was notable because it hit a funeral where civilians were mourning deaths from an earlier attack. (The “barrel bomb” propaganda meme was thoroughly debunked by Tim Anderson among other analysts of the Syrian conflict, but truth obviously does not enter the picture with the West’s machinery of lies).
Some people commenting online seem to think it sinister that the child was photographed in the arms of three different men, but we have seen plenty of other footage from Syria where rescuers work in a chain and pass children to each other.
The comments however were instructive. They overwhelmingly questioned Channel 4’s spin. Clearly many do not buy the mainstream media narrative any longer, hence the hysteria in the establishment to denounce alternative sources and independent journalists as purveyors of “fake news”, or “agents of Putin.” In any case, see for yourselves: