Won't Someone, Please, Think of the Assad Apologists!

Today MRZine published a post from Louis Allday titled Controlling the Narrative on Syria. The purpose of which is to bring to our attention the real victims in the Syrian revolution, the journalists defending the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad.

I am not sure what you are supposed to call someone who only bends over backwards to absolves Assad of responsibility other than an Assadist. They aren’t neo-cons attempting to shield a partner from international scrutiny for their own benefit. For whatever reason they have decided to go out of their way, spending time and resources, to make those who listen to them question all forms of opposition to the Syrian regime. What else do you call this but an Assadist?

To start off Allday writes:

Therefore, I feel it is incumbent upon me, as well as others, to speak out, if only to disrupt the usual spurious talking points that have been largely unchallenged for too long.

Which makes it sound like he won’t simply be repeating the same talking points that have been used and rebutted against time and again for years, but that is exactly what he does. The only unique part of the article is in between these accusations are cries for those who have been met with backlash for spreading this garbage.

He kicks off the framing of opposition to the regime with the complete falsehood of support for a no-fly zone.

virtually all of them is their full blooded support for the creation of a no-fly zone

It is a favorite of apologists to bring up the interventions that aren’t happening in order to not talk about those that are. This makes it clear what kind of person we are dealing with. It doesn’t take long to get to another:

ongoing airstrikes

For this Allday links to an article about the single time a US airstrike struck Assad forces. An event that sent the US government reeling, promising a swift investigation and compensation to the family members of those killed. The ongoing airstrikes have been against daesh and Nusra, but that fact doesn’t fit Allday’s narrative, so he distorts the truth.

Not only has the West (primarily the US) intervened, it has done so on a very large scale. For instance, in June 2015, it was revealed that the CIA’s involvement in Syria had become “one of the agency’s largest covert operations” in which it was spending roughly $1bn a year (about $1 for every $15 in the CIA’s announced budget).

Here is another repeated number by people like Allday who must know that their point would fall apart if they bothered to investigate what the $1 billion actually provided, so better to simply repeat the large number and let imaginations run wild. The number itself is from an anonymous CIA source in the Washington Post, repeated uncritically by those who claim to investigate the accuracy of the media, like Adam Johnson on fair.org. Why bother actually investigating if it fits the story you want to tell? When you consider how far a billion dollars goes in a fight against Syria, Iran and Russia (10’s of billions in total towards fighting the rebels), what the money went to besides Syrian rebels, and of the money actually used to help rebels, how many were trained, how many weapons were given and the fact that they were trained to fight daesh and not Assad, the claim that “the United States launched a full-scale war against Syria” starts to fall apart.

It should be noted that the anonymous source said the $1 billion was for all “Syria-related operations”, which means this includes the weapons, training and logistic support the CIA has been providing to the peshmerga. Something the Assad apologists mostly stay silent about, even more so in order to make it seem $1 billion a year is being funneled directly to the fight against the regime.

Indeed, although it is rarely mentioned, a senior US intelligence official is on record in a televised interview with Mehdi Hasan confirming that facilitating the rise of ISIS and other Islamic extremist groups in Syria and Iraq was a “wilful decision” on behalf of the Obama administration.

I’m guessing Allday purposefully leaves out the name of the senior US intelligence official, Michael Flynn, from this sentence… But even aside from the Islamophobic source who wants to work with Russia in massacring Syrians, nowhere in this interview does he confirm that it was a “wilful decision” to facilitate the rise of ISIS. That is simply Allday pulling claims directly from his ass and smearing them on the screen.

An Atmosphere of Intimidation?

Now we come to the cries of victimization.

Khalek, who was already being widely criticised at that time, was eventually hounded for her stance on Syria to such an extent that in October 2016, after agreeing to attend a conference in Damascus, she was forced to step down as an editor of Electronic Intifada. Ironically, while Khalek ultimately did not even attend the conference, several other mainstream journalists and analysts who did so have received no criticism

First, he perpetuates the lie that the outrage started because Khalek was simply “attending” the conference. She was scheduled as a speaker. Specifically to speak on her incredibly shoddy article about sanctions. In addition to that lie, the odd point that other journalists were attending with little to no criticism is made. Obviously there are those of us who once trusted Khalek as a source. She has done great reporting on Palestine. More is expected of those who claim to be fighting for justice of the oppressed and are listened to by those who are involved in these struggles. This is why it is most important to challenge those voices that are considered reliable in the community when they become mouthpieces for an oppressive regime.

Next comes the defense of Max Blumenthal. But even worse, he thinks Max didn’t go hard enough on those risking their lives to save people from under rubble in a war zone:

The fury of the reaction to Blumenthal’s work took me aback, not only because much of the information it contained was already well known in some circles online and had been published elsewhere previously, but because Blumenthal did not explore the explosive allegations that the White Helmets have faked some of the footage and images. These allegations (to even mention which online had seen people condemned as heartless and sickening) have subsequently been lent some credence after a bizarre incident in which the White Helmets posted online a so-called ‘mannequin challenge’ video (that has since been taken down) in which two of its members and a supposedly injured man trapped in rubble posed silently and motionlessly for thirty seconds before a dramatic rescue began and the man suddenly began to wail in pain.

That’s right, the videos are fake! The evidence? The fact that the White Helmets made a ‘mannequin challenge’ video which was never claimed to be a real rescue… What is always left out from those using this video as evidence of the atrocities being made up is the fact White Helmets have training – just watch the Netflix documentary, something I’m sure people like Allday won’t do because it is “western propaganda”. Many firefighters and paramedics have also made ‘mannequin challenge’ videos and aren’t met with an international campaign of harassment claiming there work is a fraud.

I haven’t covered the entirety of the article yet, there is only so much bullshit one can wade through at a time. To end I’ll say again, these cries of intimidation and victimization are not from those who oppose taking a strong and vocal stance against journalists smearing people fighting oppression. They play this card now because they wish to defend Assad and have received backlash on the left. What else do you call them besides Assadists?