Guest post by DaveM
With reports of more than 500 dead and still no letup in the Syrian uprising, along with reports of soldiers refusing orders to shoot on their fellow citizens, one would guess that the mood inside the Assad household would be less like the infamous Vogue photo shoot and more akin to this:
Of course we’ll never know what goes on behind closed doors, but one thing’s certain and that’s the regime has been shaken by events. The mask has slipped and now the world is finally seeing Bashar and Asma al-Assad as they actually are: not as young, Western-leaning reformers shackled by a mythical ‘old guard’ but as Syrians have always known them– the Levant’s Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu.
There are clear indications of the regime’s desperation in its harassment of journalists.
(Yes, I’m sticking up for Al Jazeera, a TV station which I dislike immensely. That should give an indication on just how bad Ba’athism is.)
Another indication is Syrian security forces’ ‘interception’ and uncovering of ‘Al Jazeera’ labeled hallucinogenic drugs which were supposedly intended to be distributed among the demonstrators– I guess to send them into a some drug-crazed frenzy in order to overcome their undying love for Bashar. Or something.
And while Syria’s official news bulletins have always been weird, they are now starting to sound like a child caught in a lie who resorts to telling bigger and bigger whoppers thinking it will get them out of it.
On 27 April the Syrian TV channel Ad-Dounia broadcast a conspiracy so nonsensical and surreal that even Muhammed as Saeed asSahaf would balk at having to read it out.
“Western media sources confirm that the majority of those activists using Facebook in connection to what’s happening in Syria were from the USA and Europe.
“An official in the US foreign ministry said that the US was spending 20 million dollars to facilitate Internet use for activists who are abroad, to enable them to achieve change in their countries of origin.
“Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State to the US Foreign Minister, explained to the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post that the administration thinks that democratic change should be locally made. Which means the enabling of democracy activists to publish their messages, so in order for them to do this they need the freedom of the Internet.
“A few days ago The Washington Post published US diplomatic documents which were leaked by Wikileaks, in which it emerged that the US Foreign Ministry was secretly funding Syrian opposition groups and other projects. Amongst these groups was the satellite TV channel alBarada which is based in London.
“The Washington Post also uncovered that the Syrian Revolution [Facebook] page was created by the department of Israeli Operations at the request of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, under the heading ‘The Media and Psychological War’.
[Gene adds: A search of The Washington Post archives turns up no such report.]
“This information was corroborated by the Parisian newspaper Metro which stated that the majority of those activists using Facebook in relation to what’s going on in Syria were from the US and Europe.
[TITLE – “The USA is training the protest leaders”]
“The US newspaper The New York Times has uncovered that a small group of organisations, funded by the US government had been training prominent leaders of the protest movements in the Arab countries on ways to launch campaigns and how to organise using new media.
“Secret US diplomatic cables which have been leaked by Wikileaks also confirm that these groups are the International Republican Institute and the Democratic National Institute, along with a non-profit [human] rights organisation based in Washington and known as Freedom House.
“The newspaper mentioned that the two institutions– Democratic and Republican– emanate from the two US political parties the Democratic and Republican, while Freedom House receives a large portion of its funding from the US Foreign Ministry.
“And the American newspaper [New York Times] indicated that some young members of the leadership attended a technology conference held in New York City in 2008. There they learned how to use social networks and mobile phones.
“Among those sponsoring the conference were the social network Facebook, the search engine Google, the TV network MTV and the US Foreign Ministry.
[TITLE – Operations Room in Lebanon]
“In parallel with this support, cells and operations rooms were formed on the ground in Lebanon to execute the plan which was prepared in the US. Lebanese Minister Nasser Kandil spoke of intelligence officers in the neighbouring states being involved in working against Syria. And in organising networks, presenting logistical support in both information networks and the supply of weaponry.
“Kandil also confirmed the existence of an operations room in Beirut for administering communication operations and the surveillance of information.
[TITLE – The Role of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya]
“Kandil also spoke of the setting up of a joint operations room for both Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya which is overseen personally by Bandar Bin Sultan, where all of Al Jazeera’s symbols [employees] sympathetic with the resistance were kept well away from any important function.
“And they were also removed from any role in this stage, a stage in which persons and pens[!] deemed credible were recruited. When all of a sudden the entry of Saudi and Qatari troops into Bahrain was ignored [even though Syria supported the entry of troops], they’re watching ready to exaggerate everything which could occur in Syria.
[TITLE – Thuraya Telephones and Gulf Support]
“Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter weren’t the only means used to administer the demonstrations on the ground. An important element was introduced, which was the sending of dozens of Thuraya satellite phones to assigned people in [all of] Syria’s regions.
“Media sources have stated that a Crown Prince of one of the Gulf States is directly responsible for the sending of these sat-phones. Anybody using these phones is able to make calls via satellite thus bypassing both Syria’s cellular network and its fixed phone-lines.
This furthermore to the purchasing of Jordanian [phone] lines which were bought up by this Gulf State.
“The Thuraya phones form the backbone of both the operations rooms and the foreign leadership– for [communication with and administering] the small groups of people, and then training them in simulated circumstances. Then calls were made between groups inside Syria and other groups outside the country.
“In Syria, according to the information, the actions focused on small groups, in some cases their numbers didn’t exceed more than two people”.
Syrians, of course, don’t believe a word of this paranoid claptrap. After all they’ve been force-fed variations of this nonsense for almost half a century now. They’ve had enough.
In fact if anyone’s been on those “Al Jazeera” hallucinogens it’s probably the Ad-Dounia newsreader.
Come to think of it, to get me through watching that broadcast I could have done with a few of them myself.