FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Media Distortions on the Syrian Elections

by

US Secretary of State Kerry has pronounced the Syrian election to be a “farce”.   As if on cue,   National Public Radio, Associated Press, ABC  and other western media have presented stories which support that claim.   A closer look reveals the media has been exaggerating, distorting and lying about the Syrian elections.

Following are a few examples  from the past few days.

Example 1.  “Thousands Flee before Syrian Elections” by Bassem Mroue, AP

On Saturday May 31 Associated Press distributed a story claiming that thousands of Syrian civilians have “fled government-held Syrian cities”. In my local newspaper there is an accompanying photo showing youth on a truck, photographed from behind. The impression to the casual viewer will be that these are some of the people fleeing.  But  the reality is  the opposite: the photo shows youth enthusiastically encouraging voting in the election and flashing peace signs.  Far from “fleeing”, they are driving around town expressing their enthusiasm for the election.

Where is the evidence to back up the AP claim? It’s all “according to opposition activists”.   That’s it, no other evidence.

Contrary to the claim of this AP story,   many people are flooding INTO Syria to vote in the election.  There are Syrians flying from all over the globe to return home to vote.  There are dozens of Syrian Americans from southern California  flying  there to vote.

Example 2. “How Fair can a Vote be in a War Zone?” , Frederick Pleitgen, CNN

This CNN story reports that opposition and Western countries “say it’s impossible to hold a vote when rebels are holding much of the north and east of the country.  And they say the election won’t be free or fair, that it will be rigged and Assad declared the winner.”    The CNN story fails to include such relevant information as:

a) Elections have recently been held in  Afghanistan, Iraq and Ukraine  where there are  also conflicts and areas beyond the government control.   The response of the US was not to dismiss the election but to congratulate the government and people!

b) The US held its 1864 election in the midst of the US Civil War.

As to the final claim about election rigging, that is simple propaganda without evidence.  Perhaps CNN does not refer to polling or surveys because    credible polls , including those contracted by Doha Qatar and NATO,  have consistently shown Assad having wide support.

Example 3.  “Syria Election: Experts Weigh In” Voice of America ,  Cecily Hilleary, June 2, 2014

In this VOA report the “experts”  have clearly been selected with bias.   Only one of the eight is not vehemently anti-Assad.  The “experts” proceed to voice all sorts of nonsense. For example Zaher Sahloul says the Syrian government is “targeting the healthcare system”.   For a reality check interested readers can view the video of  rebels blowing up of the Kindi Hospital in Aleppo. To the cries of Alahu Akhbar we see the truck slowly drive up the road and then blow up the new  hospital which was to be a model for Syria.   Sahloul continues as follows: “Syrians who are lucky enough to stay alive or be spared from displacement will have no choice but to vote and vote frequently for the  ‘exceptional’ leader”.    This is untrue.  There is no requirement to vote, nor is there any way to determine how a person votes if they do.  It’s a secret ballot.  Sahloul’s claim is part of the  stream of false rumors and claims,  assertions without evidence.

Example 4. “Five Things to Know about Tuesday’s Election in Syria“,  ABC News,  by Zeina Karam  AP

According to this article “The election is an indication the civil war is likely to last a long time.”  On the contrary, if the election confirms that the Syrian government has significant popular support, it will further undermine the credibility of the armed opposition and lead to ENDING the armed conflict.  That, of course, is what they are worried about.

Another claim in this article is that  “The so-called internal  Syrian opposition groups …  are also boycotting.”  This is not true.   The non-violent opposition parties and groups are actively participating in the election.

The article further claims that  “About 2.5 million Syrian refugees are scattered across neighboring countries. Most of them have been either excluded or are boycotting the balloting.”   This is not true.  Those refugees who crossed the border into Lebanon or Jordan  with passports stamped had their voting day last Wednesday May 28.  The turnout of Syrians in exile was huge,  greatly exceeding the expectations.

Those refugees who fled across the border  over the past few years and only have their national ID card, were expected to vote at polling stations on the Syrian side of the border on election day June 3.

However in the wake of the massive turnout last Wednesday, the US allied Lebanese “Future Movement” has in the last 48  hours enacted a new law which will PREVENT Syrian refugees from voting on Tuesday!   The  law will not allow the refugees to return to their camp if they cross over into Syria to vote.  It’s the Lebanese government, not the Syrian government, which is excluding the vote of Syrian refugees.

In summary, Syrian citizens abroad are not being allowed to vote in countries like USA and Canada where the Syrian Embassies have been shut down.  They are not being allowed to vote in European countries such as Germany, Belgium and France where the host countries have prohibited voting.  And now the refugees in Lebanon are not being allowed to cross into Syria to vote.  The claims of the article are untrue.   It’s the western powers and their allies who are preventing Syrians from voting.

WHAT IS AT STAKE

John Kerry and those seeking regime change in Damascus know the significance of the Syrian elections. That’s why Kerry has been so crude and forceful in his denunciation.   The media, as in the past, has fallen into line and failed to report objectively.

The Syrian people, both those in the country and those abroad, also know the meaning of the election. That’s why  they went in massive numbers in Beirut. That’s why Syrians have traveled from many countries around the globe, going to vote in their homeland.   And that’s why it will be interesting to see  how many boycott the election in Syria vs. how many vote.   One thing is clear:  We won’t find out from the mainstream media or their followers.

Rick Sterling is a founding member of Syria Solidarity Movement. He was in Damascus, Latakia and Homs in April with the International Peace Pilgrimage. He can be emailed at rsterling1@gmail.com

 

Rick Sterling is a retired aerospace engineer who now does research/writing on international issues. He can be contacted at rsterling1@gmail.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail