BBC propaganda: “Bashar Assad rapes children” By As’ad AbuKhalil

4 March 2012Al-Akhba

Propaganda against the Syrian regime is not confined to the Saudi and Qatari Arab media. Western media have largely suspended their journalistic missions and have become willing transmitters of the claims, lies, rumors, fabrications, hoaxes, exaggerations, and stories of the Ikhwan-dominated Syrian opposition. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (and there are two organizations by that name) is the most oft cited source in Western media and no one knows how they collect their numbers. One of the directors of the observatory, Rami Abdulrahman, is the most quoted name about Syria although it has been revealed that a man by that name does not exist.

This is similar to media coverage prior to the 2003 Iraq war. Western media are now working at the service of Western governments plots for the region. The claims about the situation in Syria are often contradicted within a day or two. For weeks, we heard that the people of Baba Amr were trapped in their homes. Yesterday, it was revealed that they (or most) had been smuggled into safety far earlier (the claim and the counter claim were both bizarrely made by the Free Syrian Army).

Western media admit that there were hundreds of fighters in Baba Amr (belonging to the Free Syrian Army). Yet, the victims are always listed as civilians. The media never offers a breakdown of the dead to differentiate between civilians and combatants among the victims of Syrian regime gunfire.

I followed BBC coverage this week while driving. I was (not) surprised that the trend of propaganda against Syrian regime that fills Saudi and Qatari airwaves is prevalent also in the BBC. It is known that BBC has become far more susceptible to government pressure than previous years. The BBC correspondent who covers Syria, Jim Muir, according to the network itself, “monitors the situation from Beirut.” What does monitor the situation from Beirut mean? And can I monitor Syria from California?

But the BBC – like all other Western and Arab (read Saudi and Qatari) media rely on whatever accounts the media outlet of the Syrian opposition (all under the control of the propaganda apparatus of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood) provide. Thus, a mere statement by a “witness” is sufficient. And those low standards of journalism are only permitted against the Syrian regime and against the Iranian regime.

Today, the BBC covered the parliamentary election in Iran and then added that a writer on an Internet site said that the turnout rate will be fabricated. Just like that. We did not know who the person being cited was or what website was referenced. Such shoddy methods would never ever be allowed in the coverage of Israel and its war crimes. That coverage is subjected to such scrutiny in order to make sure that Zionists don’t have basis to protest against the coverage.

The BBC coverage of Baba Amr over the last days amounted to giving airtime to whoever the Syrian Ikhwan picked to tell the story. There was one former resident who moved to Beirut and who was put on all day Monday. He basically was given the precious airtime to say anything that he wanted. He did not report massacres that he witnessed: but he spoke about massacres that he sees in the future. He “reported” that Syrian troops will rape women and children once they enter Baba Amr. The witness (or former witness) was given airtime virtually every hour and he merely spoke emotionally and propagandistically without giving any facts. He was almost given airtime to seek more arms for the rebels. And at one point: he said that Bashar Assad rapes children. He said that in English, so there was no room for mistranslations. The BBC let the remark stand and it most likely was repeated in different news segments during the day.

But the emotional and sentimental nature of the coverage raises many journalistic questions, particularly because it is politically motivated. How can it not be politically motivated when BBC coverage of Israeli assaults, massacres, and war crimes contain not a hint of emotion. At a time of war, or a time of preparation for war, many Western media now volunteer their services to aid in the war effort, or in the psychological operations. Those operations are now being undertaken in earnest.

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