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Syria and its fight against media manipulation

The Arab country of Syria is successfully facing the political, cultural, military and media war being waged on the country by Western powers amid the armed conflict that began in March 2011.

 

  Oscar Bravo Fong

 

These were the words of the Syrian information minister, Imad Sara, who, in an interview with Prensa Latina, stated that the media campaigns have been run by mercenaries within the country, sent from the centres of power in various foreign states.

Among these he listed the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and others.

For the past seven years, he said, the Syrian press has been forced to deal with media outlets hostile towards the country and its people, and he underlined that these pro-imperialist agents have tried to demonise the country and its mass media.

He also declared that what Syria is suffering is a complex, compound war, one which has seen the use of tools such as criminal gangs, diplomacy, intelligence services and economic blockades, as well as sectarian, religious and ethnic incitement.

“The mass media has used all these elements of dirty warfare as a way to destroy civic consciousness, to strike at identity, and to take aim at national unity and state institutions,” he says.

“They have also sought,” he adds, “to falsify words and opinions, and deceive international public opinion regarding events in Syria.”

He suggested that the Middle-Eastern country is facing a fierce media and propaganda war designed to overthrow the government, and that the enemies of the country believed this objective would be rapidly accomplished.

“To this end,” he says, “they distributed immense volumes of false news in numerous languages and through large and influential outlets, while sustaining an unprecedented propaganda campaign using social networks, carried out under glamorous slogans of democracy, freedom and human rights.”

He argues that these hidden, undeclared objectives aimed to destroy the Syrian state, its society and its values, and to divide the country along religious, sectarian and ethnic lines.

Despite the modest resources available to them, media sources in Damascus have spread the truth about the political and military situation in the area, Sara believes, and he explained that the resistance shown by the Syrian people and army have contributed to frustrating the terrorist war being waged on the country. He insisted, however, that the success of the media war has resulted in Western sanctions on Syrian media, and that attempts have been made to remove national channels from satellite TV.

The centres of power have also made threats and carried out terrorist attacks against Syrian media outlets, among which the 2012  attack on the headquarters of news channel Ikhbariya TV, with explosives which killed the employees on duty.

Similarly, according to Sara “radicals detonated a bomb on the third floor of the headquarters of Syrian Radio and Television, and two car bombs driven by suicide bombers caused material damage to the building in 2013.”

Despite these hostile acts, he declares, the local media has fought resolutely against the media war, and, in cooperation with friends and allied publications, has gradually succeeded in uncovering and thwarting the dirty war against the country.

What have been the human and material costs of this media war? I ask.

The Syrian media has lost its best staff in this war; many of them died while covering the army in its fight against terrorist groups.

Many others were killed by the terrorist groups. At least 47 journalists and employees have died, and more than a hundred have been injured. Some have been kidnapped and have yet to be located. That’s how things stand.

What are your feelings on the possibilities for a political solution, considering the armys recent advances?

The Syrian government has maintained since 2011 that the only way out of the current crisis will be through national dialogue among the Syrians themselves, and that the solution must be political.

However, Western and regional powers have worked to obstruct this movement, and the efforts to reach a political solution go together with the fight against terrorism, which is a necessary condition to achieve a political solution.

The Syrian Arab Army’s great successes in Alepo, Deir Ezzor, the desert and Eastern Ghouta constitute an essential step on the road towards a political solution,” he said.

The minister also touched on other subjects during the interview, reiterating that the government is cooperating with its allies and the United Nations to achieve the much hoped-for political solution.

As the head of a delegation from the Ministry of information, you are planning to participate in an upcoming broadcasting event in Cuba. In terms of communication, what do you hope for from this visit?

In Cuba, a country that is a friend to Syria and a source of solidarity, we will seek to strengthen our cooperation; we want to consolidate the partnership agreement between the Arab News Agency Sana and the Prensa Latina

From its office in Damascus the Cuban organisation, to which I extend warm recognition of its support for the Syrian people since the beginning of the war in 2011, spreads the truth about what is happening in this country.

Sara, who was the Director General of Syrian Radio and Television, says that during the visit “we plan to renew an agreement between Syrian radio-television and the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television”.

In this sense, he insists that the exchange of Syrian and Cuban soap operas, TV series and films is important in helping bring together the cultures of both countries and in continuing the fight against injustice and imperialist hegemony.  (PL)

(Translated by Kit Sedgwick) – Photos: Pixabay

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