Medialens ask the questions most in the media aren’t:
When is an act of terrorism not terrorism? When the victims are officially sanctioned state enemies. This was clear from the political and media response to the assassinations of senior ministers of the Syrian ‘regime’.
On 18 July, a bomb attack on the national security headquarters in Damascus killed three top Syrian ministers: Defence Minister Daoud Rajiha, President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat and General Hassan Turkomani. Two days later, Syria’s national security chief, Hisham Ikhtiari, died from injuries he received in the attack.
Reuters reported U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying that the situation in Syria was ‘spinning out of control’. For good measure, he added that President Bashar al-Assad’s government would be held responsible if it failed to safeguard its alleged chemical weapons sites. The brazen echoes of the propaganda campaign against Iraq a decade ago could be heard reverberating around the world’s news media.
One of our messageboard visitors posted an extract from a New York Times article on the apparently increasingly effective use of improvised explosive devices by the Syrian ‘insurgency’:
‘Joseph Holliday, a former American Army intelligence officer who is now an analyst covering Syria for the Institute of the Study of War, in Washington, said the changes were not in the rate of attacks, but in a rapidly evolving prowess . . .
‘ . . . The exact means by which anti-Assad fighters have improved their manufacture and use of bombs, and who trained them, is not clear.
‘Mr. Holliday said the capability “comes in part from the expertise of Syrian insurgents who learned bomb-making while fighting U.S. troops in eastern Iraq“‘.
The poster, Peter, then made the point that:
‘while they were “fighting U.S. troops in eastern Iraq”, we were told in no uncertain terms that they were evil, terrorist bad guys. Islamo-fascist, Al Qaeda linked, Saddam sympathisers who had to be mercilessly slaughtered.’
Now apparently similar forces in Syria using similar tactics to attack an ‘enemy regime’ are cast as ‘rebels’ or ‘freedom fighters’ helping to foment a ‘revolution’ as part of the latest stage of the ‘Arab Spring’.
Peter concludes of the bomb attack in Damascus:
‘the tenor of the coverage clearly has nothing to do with moral or logical consistency, and everything to do with the reported act’s utility to Western power.’