The latest sad and horrific tragedy of the alleged sarin attack on Syrian citizens hit the headlines on Wednesday 21st August.
Media and politicians were quick to respond with accusations and insinuations of who was responsible without any definite proof or reliable third-party verification.
Many pointed the finger at Assad and his government, even as far as the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius calling for a show of force from the international community.
The US State Department issued a statement that the Syrian rebels do not have the capability to carry out a sarin attack on the scale of Wednesday’s tragedy, and blamed the Assad government without any conclusive proof that it is responsible.
However, in May of this year Carla del Ponte, Commissioner of the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, stated that there the rebels forces are in possession of sarin and there is evidence that the rebels have used the agent in several attacks on civilians.
Also in May of this year, Syrian rebels were arrested in Adana, Turkey, and were found to be in possession of 2Kg of sarin. The Turkish authorities suspected that the agent was going to be used in a terrorist attack in the city.
The US government tried to bolster support for providing the Syrian rebels with military support by touting dubious ‘evidence’ to US allies – evidence which the UN criticised because it did not meet the most basic of international standards of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – and independent organisation which sets international standards and protocols to verify the use of chemical weapons. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the international community not to rush into arming the rebels based on such flimsy ‘evidence’.
Mainstream media reports have mainly focused on the statements and responses of the governments of the US, UK, and France about the latest attack, giving little or no coverage to factual news which may show another side to this Syrian travesty.
Unfortunately, this biased reporting has been prevalent throughout the Syrian conflict.
There has been little or no coverage of how peace talks have been sabotaged by the Syrian opposition through making highly unreasonable demands, yet the Syrian government welcomed the peace talks as a vital step forward in finding a diplomatic solution. Assad has stated that if he is required to step down he will do so as part of a democratic and diplomatic process.
It has not been widely reported that in 2011 when demonstrations were taking place and prior to the conflict escalating, the Assad government attempted to enter into dialogue with opposition organisations to prevent any unnecessary conflict – again rejected by the ‘opposition’.
The visit of the UN chemical weapons team is reported as taking place with reluctant cooperation from the Syrian government. In fact, Assad has stated several times that he welcomes the inspection. The reason the team are restricted in where they can visit is because the Syrian government can not guarantee their safety in areas which are rebel strongholds, or where there is significant rebel activity. Such is the situation with the latest incident.
The Syrian government have said that they are ready for maximum cooperation with the UN inspectors to clarify the alleged use of chemical weapons.
Aleksandr Lukashevich, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Moscow hopes that UN experts will conduct “objective investigation of all possible cases of use of chemical weapons on Syrian territory. We hope that the results will clarify the issue and will help to dispel numerous speculations around the alleged use of the Syrian chemical weapons that simultaneously create a positive background for the moves towards the start of the political process of settlement of the Syrian crisis.”
Mainstream media are supposed to present a balanced argument, but often we find their reporting speculative and biased, based on their own political agenda. This is not journalism, it is manipulation and propaganda. Perhaps this is why we feel as though we are constantly trying to redress the balance, which often results in strong attacks against those who are purposely abusing their position in the public eye.
This latest attack is a prime example. While the mainstream media focuses on the manipulation and lies of politicians, there are other significant and newsworthy events which should be reported to present a balanced perspective.
The US and UK (in particular) have been desperate to find a way to provide military support to rebel factions in Syria, but public opinion in most western countries is firmly against the move. As the rebels continue to lose ground in the conflict, so the more desperate the west are to provide arms and equipment.
Many of the statements made by politicians about the latest incident on Wednesday indicate that they are already planning some form of military support which will be deployed in the near future. They will have achieved their objective though manipulation and false justification, with the help of mainstream media.
The fact is, there is no evidence of what has happened in Syria during the past week which would indicate who is responsible for the terrible suffering of the Syrian people.
It does seem illogical that UN inspectors arrive in Syria and a few days later the Syrian government launch a massively devastating chemical stack – but we don’t know.
Equally, the Syrian opposition forces can not be taken out of the equation. Just because the US declares that they do not have the capability to launch such an attack means nothing. The US government have lied and presented false information many times before to achieve their own objectives. The rebel forces have been proven to be involved in horrendous atrocities against the Syrian people, so there is nothing to suggest they are not capable or responsible.
The world was in a similar situation with Iraq. Governments lied about weapons of mass destruction and invaded – despite the majority of public opinion being against it. Perhaps this time they are trying to make sure they have some perceived justification for creating an unstable Syria – which has been their objective since the conflict began.
Looking at mainstream media website today, there is no mention of the Syrian government agreeing to cooperate with the UN inspectors. Surely that is a significant development.
Most of the main news sites are carrying a story about a million child refugees, with some linking it to Wednesday’s incident. This is hardly new. The Syrian people have been desperate for the conflict to end, but have been forced to become refugees to avoid the atrocities of the rebel faction and the escalation of the conflict with the aid of western governments. There is plenty of evidence to support this, yet it is something that mainstream media ignore, as they do the well documented connections showing CIA involvement in promoting the conflict.
From our perspective, it is saddening that the general public are not being given well-balanced reports from which they can draw their own conclusions. They are constantly being told what to think – not to think for themselves.
As we see more and more biased reporting based on the lies of politicians, it becomes more evident that we are not being told the truth about the Syrian conflict (or anything else involving governments). Unfortunately many people just ‘switch-off’ rather than trying to find alternative sources of information, perhaps through time constraints, or just being overwhelmed by their daily lives.
But it is important that we DO find alternative sources of information, think about what our conclusions are, and express them to others. We need to be in a position where we take back control from political liars and biased media, making sure that they know their manipulation is no longer acceptable to us.
If we don’t, we will see many more atrocities committed like those in Syria and Iraq (as well as other areas of the world).
The politicians don’t suffer – the ‘extremists’ don’t suffer – it is the ordinary people trying to go about their ordinary lives that suffer and are treated like pawns in a very stupid power game – something a civilised society should have evolved out of many, many years ago.