Libya, Syria, And The Unquestioned Media Coverage: How Much Have We Learned?
Since the first weeks of the Libyan conflict, independent journalists clearly showed that facts in Libya were in neat contrast with what the big news agencies reported. While the Western media turned the spotlight on ‘Ghadaffi’s crimes’, NATO was carrying out a 24 hour non-stop bombing campaign on Libyan soil with complete media silence.
Likewise in Syria, mainstream media coverage persistently points to ‘Assad’s brutal regime’, whilst we don’t hear about the armed groups scattered all over Syria. And the recent media speculation that Damascus may use chemical or biological weapons inside Syria only adds up to the world’s mounting pressure on the Syrian government.
The state of truth in mainstream media coverage is at unprecedented danger. There has been a steady reality reversal accomplished by press agencies in the West and across the Arab world.
In an interview conducted by the New York Times with independent journalist Lizzie Phelan (31st January 2012) who reported from the Libyan war, Phelan explicitly stated that almost everything reported by the mainstream media has been proved wrong, listing a few facts and figures:
- The rebellion WAS indeed armed from the very first day of the uprising (this was confirmed in Amnesty's in-depth report from late last year) - not a peaceful movement
- The rebels WERE working hand in glove with Western intelligence agencies to facilitate a NATO blitzkrieg
- The NTC ARE disunited and incapable of governing the country.
- The rebels DO have a racist, even genocidal, policy towards sub-Saharan African migrants and the third of the Libyan population that is dark skinned
- Gaddafi's government WERE NOT conducting aerial attacks against protesters or mass rape (or indeed ANY rape, according to Amnesty)
- There HAD NOT been 10,000 people killed in Benghazi by Gaddafi's government during the uprising (as the NTC claimed), but 110 (Amnesty figures again) killed on both sides prior to NATO's attack
What was presented by news organizations in Western and GCC countries (notably Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya) from their unequivocal position has proven to be no more than fabricated news.
Thierry Meyssan, founder of Voltaire Network, who conducted a two months’ investigation on the ground, argues that the Libyan campaign (staged by Western nations) carried a staggering number of lies fed to the world’s public.
He points out that the Libyan military operations, and their legal basis Resolution 1973, were presented as a necessary measure to protect the civilian population against what press agencies referred to as "crimes against humanity"(Global Research, 20 April 2011). Meyssan clarifies that while the clashes between Gaddafi’s supporters and the insurrection were certainly bloody, no systematic repression against the civilian population ever occurred.
The French journalist also recalls how the Western press pretended that the hundreds of thousands of Libyans who fled the country were escaping from massacres, influencing the rhetoric that Ghaddafi’s regime had to be overturned (Voltaire Network, 19 June 2011).
But what goes very easily forgotten about Libya is the (unreported) NATO military campaign. Floods of live reports, YouTube videos, news updates were coming every day documenting NATO’s non-stop air raids killing people and destroying homes, hospitals, schools. That reality was outrageously wiped out in the mainstream press.
On 8-9 August 2011, 85 people were reportedly killed including 33 children, 32 women, and 20 men in the city of Zliten, in Misurata district, as a result of NATO’s deliberate targeting of residential areas and civilian infrastructure, over several days of bombardment, with a total of 20 families targeted by NATO bombings (Voltaire Network, 13 August 2011).
Sociologist and scholar Mahdi Nazemroaya, who witnessed the Libyan conflict, conducted a study that revealed the media fabrications used to give the green light to NATO’s military intervention (Global Research, 2 May 2011). Claiming that Libyan military jets were firing on civilian protesters - killing more than 6,000, according to Western press- formed the NATO Allies’ justification for establishing the no-fly zone over Libya, and thus launching the war.
The rebel movement was wrongly portrayed by the big news organisations as strong and determined, whereas they proved to be incapable of gaining ground from government forces until NATO intervened.
Another notorious media distortion was to describe the armed rebels as ‘freedom fighters’, sympathetic to the Libyan people. In reality, independent news sources showed a wealth of evidence pointing to violations committed by the rebels -with alleged links to Al-Qaeda.
The media propaganda surrounding the events in Libya says a lot about Western (hidden) motives behind NATO assault, which culminated in a real coup de grace with the brutal extra-judicial killing of Libya’s ousted leader -broadcasted worldwide via video footage showing his lynching- and Hillary Clinton calling for his death only two days earlier.
The NATO powers, assisted by the media, quickly okayed the fall of the Libyan regime rubbing their hands for new deals to come. Just the day after colonel Ghaddafi was assassinated, UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond reportedly told British business executives to pack their suitcases and fly to Libya so to win contracts to rebuild the bombed country.
The public was easily led to buy into what Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, France24 or others reported. Masses of people stayed apathetic in the face of a criminal foreign intervention that left Libya destroyed, ridden by tribal and factional divides, and filled with well-armed militias.
Indeed, the integrity and non-partisan reporting of mainstream media should be questioned when we look at Libya’s replicated scenario in Syria, where one wonders why this particular ‘uprising’ has drawn such a substantial attention over more than a year.
Since the beginning of the unrest in Syria, an unequivocal emphasis in the media around the world has been placed on the mass scale killings of peaceful protesters and civilians, allegedly committed by their own government, while many cities and towns across Syria are in the hands of military groups and terrorists.
The Global Research’s SYRIA: NATO's Next "Humanitarian" War? (February 2012) points to ample evidence indicating that since mid-March 2011, Islamist armed groups have infiltrated the protest rallies and conducted terrorist attacks.
The role of the US-NATO alliance and foreign intelligence in supporting, training and financing the armed insurrection inside Syria is not addressed by the Western media. Yet, at the start of this year, evidence revealed the infiltration of agents from MI6 and the CIA in Syria assessing what weapons and communications assistance rebel forces needed (Daily Star, 1 January 2012). Last June, the New York Times cited CIA and Arab intelligence officers operating in southern Turkey in support of opposition armed gangs in Syria (The New York Times, 21 June 2012).
Corporate media have run sensationalist, unverifiable ‘eye-witness reports’ in the Syrian crisis by systematically providing a distorted coverage of facts, while heavily relying on the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Besides, numerous media reports don’t specify the sources of information, often referred to as ‘activists’, with the result of using accounts of anonymous groups.
An illustrative case of media misinformation can be recalled from the massacres in Houla and Hama. Without investigation, Western and Arab news agencies around the world immediately took the rebel side and attributed the killings to the Syrian government.
The BBC ran a photo from Iraq mistakenly claiming it was taken in Syria. Photographer Marco Di Lauro slammed the use of his images as propaganda against the Assad government to prove its culpability, adding that he was surprised the BBC was ready to publish any pictures sent by someone without checking sources (RT, 29 May 2012).
Human rights investigator Keith Snow argues there was no mistake with posting the photo, explaining that, like in Libya, there are CIA agents, MI6 and Mossad operatives all over in Syria, manufacturing false images that claim to be footage from activists or citizen journalists (RT, 29 May 2012).
It is worth reminding that the bloody slaughter in Houla took place only a day before the arrival of Kofi Annan in Syria to revive his peace plan. What could Assad benefit from killing its own people right before Annan’s visit?
A very similar episode is the massacre in Hama last June, with the opposition claiming that pro-Assad militants brutalised villagers and burned them, and posting numerous videos with dead bodies. Despite contrasting reports and lack of credible investigation, the version of events from the rebels was again picked by the international media.
The sensitive timing for this massacre, which came just before Kofi Annan briefed the Security Council on Syria, allowed the Free Syrian Army to withdraw from the ceasefire and resume their military operations. The slaughter in Hama offered another opportunity to hold Assad responsible and justify more international interference into Syrian internal affairs, with pro-rebel nations preparing a ‘post-Assad Syria’ plan, as RT correspondent Maria Finoshina suggests (RT, 7 June 2012).
Earlier in July, another alleged atrocity occurred in the village of Tremseh, with reports from Western media outlets rushing to blame the Syrian army. Finian Cunningham points to follow-up investigation into the Tremseh killings which led to reports published by German newspaper Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, Russia Today and others, revealing that Western and Arab-backed mercenaries were behind the incident (Global Research, July 13 2012).
The timing here is once again crucial since this massacre came only hours before another meeting of the UNSC members, where US, Britain and France were pressurising Russia and China to vote on a resolution that would lead up to military intervention in Syria.
American author and journalist Webster Tarpley shares the view that the West is doing its best to force violence in Syria and destabilize the country. During his ‘fact-finding’ tour through Syria, the American journalist met people who complained about armed snipers and radicals shooting at Syrian civilians (Syria News, 4 December 2011).
“What you are dealing with here are death squads, you are dealing with terror commandos; this is a typical CIA method. In this case it’s a joint production of CIA, MI6, Mossad, it’s got money coming from Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and Qatar”, Tarpley explains (RT, 21 November 2011).
Tarpley hints at Libya to point out how imperialist policy achieved its goal of partition, bringing the country under the rule of terrorist gangs, and the same is being replicated in Syria by using radical groups on the ground (namely Al-Qaeda) (Press TV, 26 May 2012).
Earlier in June, Thierry Meyssan warned that Member States of NATO and the GCC were preparing a vast disinformation campaign consisting of replacing Syrian national television stations by TV programs created by the CIA (Voltaire Network, 11 June 2012). The French intellectual noted that the Arab League officially asked the satellite operators Arabsat and Nilesat to stop broadcasting Syrian media, in the same way they censured Libyan TV to keep the leaders of the Jamahiriya from communicating with their people.
Western powers are mapping out their war master plan in the region by interfering in domestic affairs, arming oppositions and destabilising countries that are unsympathetic to their policies. And the big news agencies are doing the 'fine job' by backing our governments’ agendas and keeping masses brainwashed.
We are witnessing a very concerning crisis unfolding in Syria, moving fast into a war spilling over in the region. Soon, we are going to see worse as a ‘humanitarian intervention’ modeled on Libya is being contemplated, and it's incomprehensible to have masses of people blind about what’s happening.
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This Opinion piece was submitted to the IMEMC by its author; opinions presented in this piece do not necessarily represent the opinions of the International Middle East Media Center.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Posted by Deb Simon at Monday, August 06, 2012