Thursday, September 29, 2011

It Could Go Either Way

My email updates flag this story about the Syrian protests. It could still go either way. Protesters haven't gotten discouraged from being killed but the security forces haven't had any fissures big enough to threaten the regime's ability to keep killing and detaining protesters.

This is interesting:

“The opposition lies sometimes even more than the government,” the aid worker in Damascus who preferred anonymity said, adding that the alleged shelling of the western coastal city of Latakia in August from the sea - trumpeted by the opposition as an example of the regime’s brutality - “was a pile of rubbish. It never really happened.”

He said people set tyres on fire on top of buildings to create smoke that would suggest a bombing. OCHA’s Negus said there were no craters in Latakia when he visited the city. Other UN officials, including the UN humanitarian coordinator in Syria, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said there were conflicting reports, but that he himself did not see any evidence of the event having taken place. One UN official suggested the opposition’s version of events could be part of “the whole media side to conflict”.

I remember the story. I apparently didn't blog it since I looked for it to correct any mention of shelling, and didn't find any post on that.

There is a media war going on. It is not, as the Syrian government would have you believe, a foreign jihadi invasion of Syria sponsored by evil enemies. And it is more than just isolated troublemakers. But the uprising hasn't spread widely enough to threaten to bring down the government. The fact that Syria has been able to shuttle troops, loyal gangs, and secret police to tamp down protests and not be overwhelmed despite being unable to use most of their army is an indication that this must be true.

The protesters are still right that Assad leads a dictatorship, so I tend to cut them some slack on the propaganda side. The truth is bad enough. But it is important to verify the details of what they say Assad's forces are doing.