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Monday, January 13, 2014

Re-examing ex-journalist Robert Fisk on the "Syrian Rebels"

Political wall painting in Kafranbel, Idlib Province, Syria

Now that the singularity of the Syrian "rebels," meaning the illusion that every fighting unit not openly allied with the Assad Regime could be lumped together under one meaningful label, has been sweep away forever by the fierce struggle now going on between the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham [ISIS] and just about everyone else fighting Assad, we can begin to examine not only how that illusion has been promoted but also how it has been used as a very powerful rhetorical tool against the Syrian Revolution. To illustrate my point I'd like to examine an earlier article by ex-journalist Robert Fisk written just this August after he'd had time to become a seasoned propagandist for Bashar al-Assad. Its the perfect article to show how this singularity of "the rebels" has been a useful tool for the Assad propagandists because without it the whole premise of this Robert Fisk attack on the revolution doesn't even get past a reading of The Independent headline:
Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?
‘All for one and one for all’ should be the battle cry if the West goes to war against Assad’s Syrian regime

27 August 2013
By Robert Fisk
If Barack Obama decides to attack the Syrian regime, he has ensured – for the very first time in history – that the United States will be on the same side as al-Qa’ida.

Quite an alliance! Was it not the Three Musketeers who shouted “All for one and one for all” each time they sought combat? This really should be the new battle cry if – or when – the statesmen of the Western world go to war against Bashar al-Assad. More...

The headline is not exactly a Robert Fisk original. He gets no high marks for creativity here, either as a "journalist" or as a propagandist. The position that all his opposition is al-Qaeda is 100% Assad. This is what Bashar al Assad told a French journalist the same week Fisk published his article:
The situation today is different; today we are fighting terrorists, 80-90% of them affiliated to Al-Qaeda.
By my calculations, that makes the remaining 10-20% of the "rebel" force some kind of super-special forces, because they appear to be holding their own against both the Regime forces with Hezbullah, Russian, Iranian and Iraqi help, and rolling back the 80-90% affiliated with al Qaeda all at the same time!

We can see from the second Fisk paragraph that he does know about alliances when he lumps them all together as "Syrian Rebels," and alliances are important to a winning strategy; the Syrian conflict has seen many.

If politics makes for strange bedfellows, and war is politic by extreme, i.e. violent, means, it follows that war makes for some real mind fucks. Take World War II for example. First we had the pre-season match with Germany and Italy squaring off against the USSR in Spain. That was followed by the Hitler-Stalin pact as the main event got going, but soon it was the US, USSR and England against Germany, Italy and Japan. No sooner than that was settled, some US generals wanted to keep their armies in Europe and immediately start a fight with Russia. I guess they were afraid we were running out of war. No danger of that though.

The forces that united to defeat fascism in WWII were never thought of as some singularity, they were collectively referred to as the allies, meaning that they were members of an alliance and it was understood by all that they each had their separate interests and goals, but had come together to deal with the task at hand, which was to defeat, in mortal combat, the fascist alliance. So if the Western Media and the Assad Regime were to refer to the various forces arrayed against him, from the Free Syrian Army, Kurdish forces, Islamic Front and al Qaeda affiliates as the "allies," they would have a case they could argue, but this is not their case.

Fisk's headline had been a staple of the Assad propaganda machine for some time and in the wake of his 21 August chemical attack and the slight fear that US President Obama might actually do something, they really ramped it up. For example, less than two weeks after Fisk published his piece, Bashar al Assad told Charlie Rose this about a possible Obama attack:
Any strike will be as direct support to Al Qaeda offshoot that's called al-Nusra, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
From this its easy to see that Robert Fisk was not providing the services of a journalist by bringing us news or enlightening us with insightful analysis, ex-journalist Robert Fisk was quite on message and merely fullfilling his role as a hack propagandist when he asked "Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?"

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

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