Saturday, April 30, 2011

Syria: The Web War

Although the uprising (revolt, some would term it) in Syria has the potential to greatly affect American interests, the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East, the security of Israel, the monstrous ambitions of Iran, and the continuing war on terror, the Obama Administration has, for the most part, decided to sit this one out, restricting American reactions to harsh words, unspecified United Nations proclamations, and sanctions against three individuals in the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Using the doctrine of humanitarian responsibility, President Obama launched an attack against Libya, which has little bearing on American interests; yet, when asked if the same doctrine did not apply to Syria and its oppressed peoples, Secretary Clinton chuckled and claimed it was not at all the same. What is certainly not the same is the amount of media attention, an overwhelming blitz from Libya while information out of Syria is limited to official State propaganda, and surreptitious videos and commentary from the protesters.
Crawling for safety...

Tanks roll into Daraa...

Kicking the fallen...
Images like those above seem to support the claims of protesters that government forces are attacking them when they protest the dictatorial reign of President Assad. A secret meeting between President Assad and his closest advisers called for undercover agents to incite violence against the people, and snipers have been reported opening fire on marches and funerals. For details previously reported here see...


While this war of bullets and blood has been waged on the streets of Syrian cities, another war is being fought, one not reported widely, if at all, by the media. It is a war of words, a battle of information and disinformation, a digital conflict on an electronic battlefield. On one side is the government of President Bashar al-Assad, armed with state television and radio, the resources to control the internet, the ability to physically cut off contact with the outside world, and an army of propagandists and sympathizers; on the other side is the opposition, equipped with personal computers, cell phones, video cameras, you-tube and the blogosphere.

A sympathizing element for "Mr President Dr Bashar al-Assad" comes from such websites as, which, as far as I've been able to discover, is hosted by the Server Central Network at IP:, located just outside Chicago, Ill. The English-language version of the site is distinguished by misspellings, poor grammar and bad syntax. It presents pictures of government rallies, clips of television announcements, and images of mawkish support for "the great man of philosopher, technology and savior who loves all Syria people."

Syrian television and radio have repeated without end that there is no revolution occurring in Syria, that the people are very happy and very supportive of the government, showing pro-government rallies and marches, interviews with citizens who endorse the order brought by government troops, and attest to the ample supply of bread, gasoline and other necessities; and the desire by the people for peace and an end to hostilities.

Most important, though, is the government assertion that none of the violence is being carried out by either police or military forces. The media continually presents evidence that the violence is being caused by foreign agents, Zionists, Americans, criminals, gangsters and spies, confirmed not only by citizens and media commentators, but by the criminals themselves.

In addition to analyzing riot videos and pointing out people who appear time and again (or seem to since the quality of images is poor), the Syria media folk also present interviews with individuals who admit being in the pay of foreign governments, Zionists or Americans, or who claim to be criminals. These "gangsters" inform the Syrians how they attack police, soldiers and citizens at the command of their foreign masters.

More important than what these people claim, however, is how they speak, how they act, the play of micro-facial muscles and eye movement, the tenor of their words, respiration, body language ,all the indicators of truth and falsehood.

After closely examining several "confessions" on Syrian media, I am convinced the claims and assertions are not true. There were no indicators of forced interrogation, no hesitancy in cadence, no signs of tension or duress. Many times during the interviews, the "gangsters" looked low and to the left, an indication of falsehood or memorization; only rarely did eyes shift to the right, which usually shows memory or experience. At various times in all the interviews, scenes of captured weapons were edited in abruptly, images of assault rifles, ammunition and grenades - it was obvious the locations of the weapons were different than the interviewees, though the media stressed the men were being questioned in their own homes. The government names these criminals, these extremist agitators, as being responsible for killing citizens, as well as for the deaths of police and military personnel, who are always referred to as "martyrs from various cities and villages."
Anyone with either a computer or a satellite dish knows the reports from other news sources do not at all jibe with what official Syrian television is broadcasting. This is explained by Syrian news anchors and other government spokesmen as an orchestrated campaign of disinformation by various satellite channels in cahoots with "extremist terrorist organizations" receiving "foreign terrorist funds." According to Syrian reports, "Satellite television stations are telling lies about a dirty war; they have sold their professional honor for thirty pieces of silver."
Chief among the media devils indicted by Syria is the Al-Jazeera Network, a Qatar-based satellite news service broadcasting in both Arabic and English. Syria claims that Al-Jazeera reporters and cameramen have been expelled from the country for spreading lies and misinformation. Syrian pundits have also accused Al-Jazeera of conducting espionage and sabotage, and for importation of drugs. The poor-quality video above was shown to Syrians as proof that hallucinogenic drugs were smuggled into the country by Al-Jazeera for the purpose of poisoning citizens and overthrowing the government.

Aligned against the massive Syria media machine are individuals such as "Malath Aumran," who uploaded cell phone videos to services such as You Tube, and used his FaceBook page to connect with others sympathetic to the cause of Syrian freedom. Of course, this was not his real name, for there was a very real danger to him and his family in Syria. When he was outed as Rami Nakhle by Syrian computer experts, he very quickly relocated to Beirut, Lebanon for safety.
Although the Syrian government threatened those close to Mr Nakhle, he refused to be silenced, and has continued to wage his war of words from a flat in Beirut. Though Rami Nakhle is far from the tear-gassed streets of Aleppo and Lattakia, far from the rumbling tanks in Daraa, he is nonetheless in the thick of battle, for in the Twenty-first Century the fight against oppression wages not only in besieged cities of solitude but on electronic battlefields where words are bullets, where firewalls are armor, and where the ultimate struggle is for hearts and minds.

It's the view from right here on the left coast...

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