Sunday 9 June 2019

More fake news about Syria

I wrote on Tuesday about biassed and unreliable reporting from Syria, which makes understanding the situation so difficult. 

I, like you, am too busy to do deep research into the subject, but via the redoubtable Peter Hitchens I read this blog post by a distinguished British expert on the Middle East, Helena Cobban, which sets things straight. 

I wrote about a misleading article in the W
ashington Post, which said it was unsafe for refugees to return to Syria. Helena Cobban takes apart a May 30 piece in The New York Times, jointly written by a journalist in Turkey and one in Lebanon, about the humanitarian crisis in Idlib. It does not make the obvious point that the inhabitants are being effectively held captive by the rebel fighters, who are also in charge of distributing aid. The article fails too to mention the rebel forces are strongly dominated by the Al-Qaeda affiliate known as Hai’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies, or
...that under the September agreement Turkey expressly agreed to intervene in Idlib to pull HTS and its allies back from the frontline and eventually from the whole of the enclave. Russia agreed, in return, to hold its Syrian allies back from attacking the rebel positions in Idlib. Turkey has not done what it promised. In early May, Turkey’s non-performance of the agreement prompted Syria and Russia to resume their attempts to reassert Syrian government control over Syria’s national territory in Idlib through military means.

The article, and all the articles I read in the newspapers, seem to be based on information provided by rebel activists, for the good and sufficient reason that the HTS and its allies have killed too many journalists.

Articles like these - and there are so many - are more than shoddy journalism. They are perhaps the most scandalous thing I can think of, as they inform public policy and the desire of people like Hillary Clinton and Boris Johnson to intervene in Syria on the side of Al Qaeda to remove the Syrian government. All that is needed is some intelligence and integrity from the newspapers in question to report in a fair way.

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