Reading "western" media on Syria

Brian Fri, 2016-11-18 14:54
Syria "White Helmets" rescue a Syrian girl: again and again and again

OMG! Those damned Russians! One week they're interfering with the US presidential election, the next they're bombing hospitals and schools in Syria. Woe is us! How are we to understand such perfidy?! If you can forgive my presumption, here are a few pointers. By now, everybody should know that there are two parts of Aleppo. The western section of Aleppo is held by the elected government of Syria. Most of the eastern part is under the control of Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian chapter of al-Qaeda, and Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki, another rabble of disgusting head-choppers. The al-Zinki lads made themselves famous for a few minutes back in July when they captured a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Abdullah Issa, and beheaded him in public, on video, for all the world to admire their handiwork and their devotion to Allah. Western leaders and media like to refer to these monsters as "rebels." There's a kindergarten of thought in the "West" that there's a revolution going on in Syria, and that if only the evil Bashar al-Assad and his government could be taken down by these woman-enslaving, child-beheading, er, "rebels," the democracy that's simmering under the surface would boil to the top. We also know that there are quite a few civilians in east Aleppo, though how many is disputed. Most of east Aleppo's civilians, when they saw the "rebels" coming, high-tailed it the freak out of there to west Aleppo (and elsewhere). Governments being what they are, the Syrians and their allies Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah have been preparing to take back east Aleppo from the "rebels"/occupiers. They stopped bombing the "rebels" in mid-October, and have set up "humanitarian corridors," so that civilians and "rebels" willing to surrender could leave. Unfortunately, the "rebels" aren't about to let them leave. Anyone who approaches one of these corridors is killed, and the entrances to them have been mined and are regularly shelled. So how is all this reported in the "West"? Here's an article from the Guardian (UK) which I think is representative. Despite that there is no bombing going on, hospitals and other health facilities in eastern Aleppo are constantly being hit by ... bombs! Apparently someone's lying. Who could it be? Here are some things that I think you would be smart to notice when reading this article:

  • Notice that the hospital involved isn't named. Why would that be? In an incident last April, another children's hospital in east Aleppo was "bombed," "al-Quds" Hospital. No problem naming it in that case. ('Al-Quds' means 'Jerusalem' in Arabic.) It turned out that the building in which the "hospital" was located had not been bombed on the date alleged—satellite imagery showed that it had been damaged long before. As if that weren't enough, doctors in Aleppo's medical association had never heard of that hospital. This caused some embarrassment. Or at least it might have if it had been reported in the West.
  • Later in the year, in another, smaller flurry of coverage in the West, al-Quds Hospital was bombed again, even though it had been "destroyed" in the April attack. (At time of writing I wasn't able to find a reference to this "attack." I'll add it when I do. Here's one.)
  • The Guardian article points to the "Independent Doctors Association." If you follow the link, you'll find most of the information contained in the Guardian article. In fact, it's not even clear the reporters involved actually spoke to Dr Hatem, their main witness to the "attack."
  • Who is the IDA? If you keep clicking, you'll be taken to their web-site. They are a "Syrian NGO based in Gaziantep," in Turkey. Though they profess to provide medical care to the "province of Aleppo," they are confined to the "rebel"-held parts. This means they must maintain a working relationship with Jabhat al-Nusra and the al-Zinki head-choppers.
  • Even the IDA's web-site seems not to know the name of the "children's hospital" in question, which is a bit surprising, because it has a name. According to an al-Arabiya report, it's the "al-Hakim" hospital. The al-Arabiya report is similar to the other bombing stories, though it would seem that in the June 2016 attack referred to, the bombs fell "near" the hospital. And, hey! There's Dr Hatem again.
  • According to the IDA's web-site, al-Hakim Hospital has three paediatricians. That would be odd, considering the world-wide news campaign over the bombing of al-Quds in April, where the "last" paediatrician in Aleppo was killed.
  • How many "children's hospitals" are there in east Aleppo? I'm from Toronto, a very large city, and there's one.
  • The April death of the "last" paediatrician in Aleppo was reported in (drumroll) the Guardian! They were, however, clever enough to omit the word "last," a staple of other reporting on the incident. Good thing, as they interviewed Dr Hatem for the article. (Notice in the LA Times article I've linked to, "rescuers" are carrying a baby out of a "bombed" building, though the baby has miraculously survived the incident without a speck of dust on her/his outfit.)
  • Like many articles of this kind, the authors are careful to create confusion, referring to "Aleppo," when what is really meant is "east Aleppo."
  • Dr Hatem is a bit of a media star, despite apparently not having a full name, as a quick search demonstrates. In October he was interviewed by the BBC (it's not clear to me, though, that he was "interviewed;" rather, it sounds like the BBC played a tape of him speaking, and inserted the questions). During the video in question, it is claimed that the "children's hospital" in "Aleppo" was struck by bombs on July 23rd. Dr Hatem calls for humanitarian corridors to be set up so that civilians can escape.
  • In fact, safe corridors have often been set up so civilians can leave. Unfortunately, Dr Hatem's colleagues in al-Nusra and al-Zinki won't let them go, mining and bombing the corridors involved. Here's how the BBC reported this matter: "The government and its ally Russia halted air strikes on 18 October to allow civilians and rebels to leave, but few took up the offer." Guess they wanted to stay for the bombs.
  • Ibrahim Abu al-Laith, described here as a "civil defence official," is, not surprisingly, according to Human Rights Watch, a member of the "White Helmets," a fake "search and rescue" organization that produces videos of itself rescuing children from rubble. It's funded from the West. Note that to be an "official," Mr al-Laith will have to work with the "rebels," al-Nusra and al-Zinki. See here, here, here, and especially here, for more on the little girl in the photo above.
  • Last, but certainly not least, there has been a pause in bombing since mid-October. There's some confusion about whether Syria has been bombing, but Russia hasn't. A vid has been circulated purporting to show the bombing, but it's undated, it's not clear that it's of a "hospital," and there's no one in the vid that looks like a doctor or a patient. They are all fighting-age males, one apparently with some kind of rifle.

To someone who's been following this for a fairly long time, this Guardian article smacks of the usual WaPo.

Meanwhile, there IS a side in this conflict that has regularly bombed hospitals and killed health-care workers: the "rebels." See here. The "rebels," along with their Western media enablers, have also established a fairly impressive record of producing WaPo (BS) for the consumption of naïve Westerners. The massacre at al-Houla, the massacre at Daraya, the "chemical attack" in east Ghouta, the trove of photos smuggled out of Syria by "Caesar," the "starvation" of Madaya, just about every allegation of war crimes in east Aleppo, have been shown, time and time again, to be outrageous WaPo, eagerly repeated and promoted in the "West" as the machinations of the evil Assad. I suppose one could say it's just overworked reporters, having to compete with alternate media with not enough resources or time, having to write too much for too little money. There might actually be some truth to that. On the other hand, maybe it's just what their editors want us to think. At some point, Western readers should stop accepting it. -30- Above: Female Syrian child who the White Helmets keep rescuing, again and again. Below: Al-Kindi Hospital, the largest cancer treatment centre in the Middle East, blown up by a suicide truck bomb in 2013. In their Youtube video, you can hear the "rebels'" chants of "Allahu akhbar" as patients, healthcare workers, and building are blown away. Triumphant music in the background adds a nice touch. Video below: The terrific Canadian journalist, Eva Bartlett, who, unlike most western journalists, has actually spent a significant amount of time in Aleppo and the rest of Syria. Notice the sparse attendance of corporate journalists.

Al-Kindi Hospital, Aleppo, after being blown up real good in 2013 by "rebel" suicide bombers

Western media agenda in Syria (Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett)