Arson incident at Syrian consulate ignored by media
Every now and then, Syria jumps into the headlines, and our consciousness. Even then, it's easy to forget the big picture: that the United States government and its allies are waging, through surrogates, a war designed to overthrow an existing government.
One of the reasons we forget is that the news media does such a terrible job of providing context. Here are a few contextual aspects we've collected over the past few weeks:
Who Caused the Crime?
The New York Times reported that Syria is descending into lawlessness, that ordinary crime has the population terrified:
"The consequences of the war here have become familiar: neighborhoods shelled, civilians killed and refugees departed. But in the background, many Syrians describe something else that has them cowering with fear: a wave of lawlessness not unlike the crime wave Iraq experienced during the conflict there.
"From Dara'a, near the Jordanian border, to Homs, Damascus and here in Syria's commercial capital -- the fighting has essentially collapsed much of the civilian state. Even in neighborhoods where skirmishes are rare, residents say thieves prey on the weak, and police stations no longer function because the officers have fled."
But who is responsible for this descent into chaos? We are. Our taxes and our government fuel the revolt in Syria, and so, whether or not we might feel the revolt itself worthy of support, we ought to at least acknowledge that the crime wave and attendant terror did not just happen, nor was it caused by the Assad regime.
Getting in and Getting the Story
For the longest time, we heard only stories interpreted by one side in this conflict. The reason, we were told, was because Western news organizations could not get their own reporters on the ground. But see this New York Times piece from July 30, reported first-person from Syria's biggest city, Aleppo. Because there is no staffer byline on the story, we may assume that the paper managed to find some competent and trustworthy Syrian to provide coverage. This raises the question of why it took so many months to recruit such personnel.
Recall that terror attack on a busful of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria? Despite a lack of solid evidence, Israel quickly labeled the attack the work of Iran-backed Hezbollah operatives. The attack, and the allegations against Iran and Hezbollah, were covered heavily around the world.
Did you hear about another terror incident? An arson attack completely destroyed two floors of the Syrian consulate in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Syria's only diplomatic mission in that country. That attack has been been little covered -- and journalists have shown no interest in figuring out who might have been behind it. Ironically, the US government's Radio Free Europe did cover it, though the media did not.
To be sure, the two incidents bore little resemblance, and the scale and consequences were not comparable. The Bulgarian attack involved a suicide bomber and resulted in fatalities and the Kazakh one did not. Nonetheless, the contrast in coverage and in assigning blame is striking.
It's interesting the way the Bulgarian attack was instantly connected with Iran--a country whose every doing (and non-doing) is fodder for a massive propaganda campaign designed to justify military action against it. Meanwhile, essentially no one bothered to propose who might have been behind the attack on the Syrian regime's consulate. Try a search on both and you will be astounded by the huge disparity in media interest. You will also be struck by the fact that the Syrian regime, which is under attack from forces sponsored by Saudi Arabia, the West and their allies, nevertheless does not specifically accuse America and its allies of being behind the attack.
Typically, when a broad "coalition" gets behind some proposed war, as with Syria, the motivations vary -- and the risks proliferate. It is of interest to note how the uprising in Syria is providing cover for another uprising -- by the stateless Kurds -- whose homeland sprawls into several countries, principally Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey. This is causing grave consternation in Turkey, which has fought a decades-long war with Turkish Kurds seeking to join a greater Kurdistan. Now that the Assad regime has been destabilized, the Turks have an incentive to speed up the effort to oust the Syrian government and get another one in place. The problem for Turkey is that it's just as likely that this will produce more chaos, and more problems with its Kurdish population.