Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Inner Workings of Syrian Spin-Doctors

We've all met, or heard form them. These are people who appear quite respectable, a bit 'Westernised', and usually seem to be quite reasonable. They express the views that would make them popular with Arabs that are concerned about justice in Palestine, and they empathise with people who criticised the dire situation of the Arab countries. In fact, the spin-doctors of Syria sometimes used to surprise people with their almost 'daring' broaching of topics and subjects that addressed issues in Syria. They encouraged people to speak out on issues that many Syrians were taught (often by force) to be taboo. One of the most interesting hallmarks of these spin-doctors, when they encouraged ex-pats to write or discuss issues relating with Syria, was that they always backed up their arguments with statements that seemed to legitimise the issue being mentioned, "Well, even the President said that the country has problems...", or, "The President himself is concerned about corruption..." and so on and so forth. It is as if these high-priests of the Assad regime are protecting themselves using the holy words of the president himself. They even grudgingly acknowledge, tut and shake their heads in a sham despair, when mention of Syria's barbaric security services arises. Of course, their view is that 'the bad old days' are over, and that they are martyrs, along with Bashar al Assad, carrying the slow burden of change in a bureaucratic and stale system. Somehow, their reasoning goes, if we all work together, then Syria will be a great place that we can all be proud of.

The problem, of course, is that this kind of talk was all before the Syrian regime began to show just how serious it was about reform. Over three thousand dead Syrians (on the most conservative estimates) can attest to how little things have changed in a country which has, for the past forty years, been firmly under the boot of a clan that comes from one of Syria's minorities. Today, these professional spin-doctors, that emerged seemingly innocuously about five years ago, have begun a full fledged propaganda campaign to spread disinformation and doubt about the events that are taking place in Syria. Some of them have clearly been trained in PR and media skills, and have, over the past few years, cultivated links with media, academia and intellectual circles in various countries in the West. They are also usually quite articulate and well-presented, and seem to have been given some special permission to be a bit less crude in the party propaganda that is usually rammed down the throats of the typical Syrian.

But these spin-doctors do not just operate on an open, media level. They also, as has happened so often during the past few years, confide 'knowingly' to their circle of unknowing acquaintances, that the Syrian regime really is the subject of a mass conspiracy. That their 'contacts' with those 'up top' have given them credible information about this conspiracy and that 'all will be revealed' if people have faith.

Strengthening the position of these (what can only be described as) professional liars, is the complete banning of any independent foreign media into the country. Of course, if anybody says this, then they will be quick to point out that the Russian and Chinese media have also been allowed to the country, and that even correspondents from CNN and the BBC were allowed to visit the country. What they do not mention is that Russia and China are staunch allies of the Syrian regime and themselves very worried about unrest spreading in their own countries. They also do not mention the constant presence of minders around the CNN and BBC journalists, or the fact that those journalists were allowed into the country in strictly limited time-frames and were not allowed to remain, nor move about the country freely.

Secondly, these professional liars will build on the narrative that the Assad regime is cultivating carefully. That the country is being overrun by armed gangs of Salafists who were trained by foreign powers. Of course any news channel which does not believe the Assad regime's version of events is dismissed as a tool of these foreign powers. The only credible source of information that these people will accept is the state owned, or state-aligned media groups (ironically themselves tools of the regime). Of course, there are also articles and stories from the Western media that can be allowed, but these are carefully selected for their ambiguity or for raising just enough reasonable doubt to assist in propagating the regime's narrative.

Thirdly, the professional liar enjoys stories of hardship and difficulty in Arab countries that have had some success in removing their dictators this year. In particular, the professional liar will cite the terrors of democracy that Iraq had to suffer. Of course, they fail to mention that Iraq's one million deaths since the American invasion were as much the fault of Iran and Syria as they were the United States. From 2005 until 2008, the Syrian and Iranian regime were embroiled in a cold war against the United States and her allies for their very survival. They won, but at the huge cost of a now almost permanently lobotomised Iraqi state.

Fourthly, they - and this might be because unlike other tools of the Syrian regime, they are only mildly more intelligent and require more flexibility - acknowledge some of the 'legitimate' grievances of the Syrian people that have, "oh so cruelly", been hijacked by these foreign conspiring powers. This is why they work themselves into a frenzy whenever the Syrian regime throws out more meaningless reforms, citing this as proof of the sincerity of Assad's regime, and the benevolence of his rule. Of course, they can revert back to their initial arguments of armed gangs roaming Syria if the absurdity of such reforms is pointed out. Naturally, they quote liberally from the speeches of Bashar al Assad to give what they say immunity in the eyes of the rabidly paranoid security services that are the attack dogs of the Syrian regime.

It is all wonderfully designed, and the beauty of their task is that it is based on a circular argument. The professional liar has all the answers, is slippery and smart, and will always find a way out. But a lie, no matter how many times it is repeated, can never be made true, even if some people come to believe it. The other thing these 'individuals' appear blissfully unaware of, is that lies can only thrive in the darkness, in the light, they wither away.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well written 100% spot on. So the Wikileaks cable reports on the regimes were correct.
(exerpts from the cable below)
(S/NF) Deceit: SARG officials at every level lie. They
persist in a lie even in the face of evidence to the
contrary. They are not embarrassed to be caught in a lie.
While lower level officials often lie to avoid potential
punitive action from their own government, senior level
officials generally lie when they deem a topic too
"dangerous" to discuss (e.g., Al-Kibar, IAEA) or when they
have not yet determined whether or how to respond (FFN,
Hezbollah arms supplies, etc). When a senior SARG official
is lying, the key challenge is not demonstrating the lack of
veracity but discovering the true reasons for it.

What is so sickening is that they think we Syrians and the world are stupid. It's an insult to our intelligence. The stupid ones are the regime,the ministers aka spin doctors aka professional liars, pro regime supporters, Russia, China. These are the people that lacks integrity, dignity,moral values in life. Little did they realised that their end will come soon because "Whoever desires honour,power and glory then to GOD belong all honour, power and glory." Faatir (35):10