Saturday, February 04, 2012

Shermine Narwani and her Straw Man of the International Media

Shermine Narwani's article, "Foolishly Ignoring the Arab League Report On Syria" has been widely circulated by the pro-resistance crowd as some further kind of proof that there is a conspiracy in Syria. I've noticed a trend here which is that any well-written and relatively neutral article that raises even the slightest doubt that Assad's regime is killing his people is distributed widely and cited as further proof that Syria is the subject of some conspiracy.

Narwani's article has been making the rounds recently, and whilst I think it is great because it examines the Arab league report, it is hardly ground breaking in its conclusions. The central theme of Narwani's piece seems to be that there are armed groups fighting the regime, and that these were not mentioned in the Arab League protocol. Narwani is saying that the "international" media have been ignoring this aspect of the uprising, which is simply not true. Narwani says:

But then the report veers sharply away from conventional narratives about the nature of the Syrian conflict by observing: “The Mission determined that there is an armed entity that is not mentioned in the protocol.” 
This conventional narrative that Miss Narwani refers to appears to be that the uprising is purely peaceful and demonstrators are unarmed. But this conventional narrative does not exist anywhere except in the minds of the most ardent supporters of Assad. For several months now the international media has been reporting about the Free Syrian Army, as well as numerous local groups trying to protect themselves from the Assad's security services. The first few months of the revolution were indeed peaceful, and the rise of "armed groups" was a self-fulfilling prophecy by Assad which was inevitable the more brutal his crackdown became. It is curious that Miss Narwani seems to think that the conventional narrative does not mention an armed element to Syria's uprising, when it does.

Furthermore, Narwani refers to some kind of media conspiracy to undermine and discredit the Arab league mission. Not one example or reference is cited, it is simply stated as some kind of "fact", in the same way that "the conventional narrative", in Miss Narwani's eyes, ignores the armed groups defending Homs from the regime; "...allegations fly riotously" about the head of the mission and Miss Narwani does not care to share with us which media outlet spread such allegations. If such a widespread conspiracy to undermine the Arab League is present then why does Miss Narwani not inform us as to what led her to such a conclusion?

Narwani concludes the article by saying:

This is a narrative that is entirely missing in the mainstream media’s coverage of the Syrian crisis. The complicity of armed groups in escalating the violence initially started by the Syrian government; the compliance of the regime in advancing the Arab League Protocol’s demands; the rejection by ordinary citizens of internationalizing and militarizing the conflict. 
This conclusion is untrue and again Miss Narwani does not care to indulge any reason for her making such an assumption. The mainstream media have, for months now, been reporting about the armed groups in Syria, as well as the Free Syrian Army. As for the internationalisation and militarizing of the conflict, the international media have interviewed and covered pro-regime demonstrations, so I would hardly say the alternative point of view is "entirely missing" from the mainstream media's coverage. In fact I am not sure what "mainstream" Miss Narwani is referring to.

Unfortunately this is a poorly referenced and researched article that appears to be more interested in resolving an artificial argument. Narwani builds up a straw man - the international media ignoring armed groups - and then proceeds to fight him viciously. In spite of all this, it is clear form the article that Miss Narwani cannot, and does not, lay all the blame at the hands of these armed groups - mysteriously ignored by an unknown mainstream media - and does make a grudging reference to the violence initiated by the Syrian regime. Predictably this article is being touted as a "brilliant" expose by some of the pro-regime people I know, others refer to it as an "excellent analysis". A closer look at this vague piece suggests otherwise.

1 comment:

zenxbear said...
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