UK media and elisions

This really follows on from a post on a similar theme last week.  In that post we commented how stories about Libya in the UK press somehow seem to manage to skate over the recent history of Libya. Anyone reading these reports could  be forgiven for not realising that NATO attacked Libya in 2011 – an event which preceded the current chaos in the country. In that report Gaddafi simply “died”. No mention of the NATO attacks and assist at his ‘death’ at all.

In this report, also in the Guardian, there is a report of an alleged atrocity in Syria. The source is the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (which is misleadingly presented as a “Human Rights Monitor”). This organisation was set up in the UK by a Syrian exile in the early days of the war and relies on a network of contacts in Syria. It is not an independent source of information. Nonetheless the report may be true. There are various corroborations – from US forces and the SDF.

The responsible party appears to be “Turkish-backed militias”. Later in the article we are told “Some of the rebel factions among the Turkish alliance had previously been supported by the US and Qatar in the early years of the Syrian war.” What we are talking about here appears to be the “Free Syrian Army” – a loose coalition of groups opposed to the rule of Bashar Al Said, who have been run by generals in exile in Turkey and who have been operating in Northern Syria. The Free Syrian Army was famously described by ex US President Obama as made up of “farmers and pharmacists”.  [1] The grouping received military support from the US. [2]

On the face of it this appears to be an atrocity committed by factions which were described by the West as the moral answer to the butcher Assad. The particular faction involved here may or may not have received arms and/or cash from the US.

No wonder then that the Guardian tries to smother the connection by only mentioning the US connection half-way down the article and then in a way so as to minimize it.

The reality, sadly, is that all sides in all wars sometimes commit atrocities. The West always claims that the side they want to overthrow has a monopoly on atrocities. But this isn’t true. They can largely keep this game going though because the Western media in general plays along – giving ample airtime to the atrocities of the “enemy” while glossing over the atrocities of the side the West has picked to “fight for democracy”.

Another example would be the question of torture in Saddam era prisons in Iraq. No doubt this took place. It was cited as one (amongst several) “justifications” for the Iraq war. I remember how a British TV journalist travelling in the wake of the illegal invading force reported breathlessly from a local jail in an Iraqi town where we could see bars that prisoners were suspended from and cables they were beaten with. In general, while there have been some reports that acknowledge the problem of torture in Iraqi prisons today, these reports have not been so numerous, and have been delivered in a much less breathless tone – and have, not surprisingly, not been cited as a need to invade Iraq.



2. Reuters

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer