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

August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail