The wars in Syria and Iraq celebrated the unfortunate end of the “free and independent press” and the rise of the “neo-analysts”. They sit in far-off lands, with no ground knowledge of the war, collecting information and analysing the colourful bin of social networking sites.
They have even the temerity to believe they can dictate to the US administration what measures should be taken, who to support and, as if they had mastered the “art of war”, they even push for a nuclear war with Russia.
It is most surprising to see respectful media rushing to embrace the opinion of these “neo-Analysts”, in fact only because what these amateurs say happens to match what mainstream media desire to hear. So we see for example a “Hezbollah Lebanon expert” or “Shia group expert” in Iraq only because he can count (he collects and analyses the Shia flags and groups he sees on Facebook and Twitter) but has never met commanders or leaders of the groups that should fall within his field of expertise in both countries. Also, many so-called “Syria experts” have never even seen the streets of Damascus, Homs, Hama, Aleppo or any other Syrian city even in peace time before 2011. Of course, Twitter and Facebook are the sufficient and unique sources of information because they have no other alternative sources. It is quite interesting, amazing in fact, to see these people producing articles and having easy access to reputable publications.
However, the views of the US administration and the one of the “neo-analysts” – are in conflict in terms of professional ethics, values and principles, even though they are both based on fighting terrorism. Journalists, and analysts, are astonishingly supporting “Qaidat al-Jihad” in Syria, fiding enough space even to report the “Islamic State” (ISIS/ISIL) material when fighting against the Iraqi Army and the so-called (sectarian) “Popular Mobilisation Units ” (al-hashd al-Sha’bi – PMU) in Iraq.
In Syria, Chechens, Moroccans, Tunisians, Chinese, Turkish, Saudi, Qatari, Egyptians, Lebanese and Palestinians (to name but a few) are called “Syrian moderate armed opposition”. But that is not limited to media only: we see US, UK, and French diplomats taking part in this bad taste comedy, calling every foreign fighter “Syrian opposition”, as long as these are fighting against Russia. The west promotes right values but doesn’t implement these values in this dirty war, where everything is permitted.
Another puzzle is eastern Aleppo and its hospitals: the number of destroyed hospitals in eastern Aleppo is about to set a Guinness record. According to the US State Department and to the western press, over 90 hospitals were totally destroyed in eastern Aleppo in the last months at the rate of almost one destroyed hospital per day. And every day we hear “the last hospital has been totally destroyed”. The only problem with this figure is the statistic released by the Syrian Ministry of Health stating that “on the entire Syrian territory, there are only 88 hospitals”.
If anyone dares to contradict this “last-hospital-destroyed” theory and propaganda, a personal accusation is ready: you must be an “Assadists” (referring to President Bashar al-Assad). “Neo-analysts” and on some occasions journalists, join in for lack of argument. We have seen professor Joshua Landis (who spent over 12 years in the Middle East and is one the most knowledgeable Syrian analyst) and Terrorism theorist professor Max Abrahms (to name a few), are accused of being “Assadists” as soon as they disagree with those sitting in a think tank and pretending to reflect on Syria or journalists looking to attract some attention to themselves. Actually this accusation becomes an easy way to break the conversation: when no argument is available from these shallow low-minded thinkers who have no hesitation promoting terrorists to rule Syria.
Moreover, Assad is no longer THE enemy but is replaced by Russia in the eyes of the US media. The reason is not difficult to imagine: Russia wants its share of a Middle East that is no longer exclusive to the Americans. According to U.S. media, all Russian shells and bombing destroy hospitals and kill civilians, while American shells kill only “Al-Qaeda” and ISIS. Of course, Russia doesn’t have the sophisticated US bombs equipped with smell-detection and able to recognise civilians and target only militants.
And when jihadists and rebels start a large scale attack against Syrian Army forces and their allies, the media stand by, waiting for results. If the regime begins a military operation hospitals are destroyed and civilians are killed in the first hour of the battle. Rarely do militants die in mainstream media.
To know the outcome of a battle in Syria, it suffices to monitor a US State Department or National Security statement demanding an immediate halt to the violence, a cease-fire and a meeting in Geneva. If the situation is severe for Jihadists and rebels, expect a visit of the UN envoy Staffan de Mistura to talk about tragedies of war and the need to create a state within a state or self-management of the jihadists and militants within a specific area. This would help Jihadists and rebels to recover their breath, reorganise themselves and be ready to return for another round of battle. Obviously diplomacy is not being used for stopping the war but to keep it going as long as possible.
There is no doubt that President Barack Obama’s administration considers “Al Qaeda” in Syria as an extension of Al-Qaeda in Khorasan, responsible for the destruction of the twin towers known as the 9/11 events and every other terrorist attack against civilians. But Obama doesn’t want any party to triumph over the other in Syria. If one group is weak, even if it is al-Qaida, it is supported at the UN, through the media, supplied with military training, equipment, finance and intelligence information by countries of the region to prepare for another attack: as long as Russia, Iran and their allies are continuously engaged on the ground.
Yes, this is exactly why Russia and its allies are not targeting ISIS in the first place but only when it is absolutely necessary. ISIS, unlike the Jihadists, does not have public support in international forums or CIA military armament and training in Jordan. Jack Murphy, a Ranger and formerly with US Special Forces, explained how his colleagues are training terrorists at the request and with the knowledge of the CIA.
The rule is clear: the mainstream media don’t want to put light on the financing of terrorism, the provenance of weapons reaching these, nor on the CIA training. It is sad how easily apparently respectable media left their credibility and unbiased reporting at the door when entering Bilad al-Sham.
In Iraq, it is difficult to understand what mainstream media wants. Media and the “new analysts” produce endless articles about how it is impossible to avoid the partition of Iraq and that the Kurds are the only force able to fight ISIS. They focus more on ISIS propaganda to prove, according to ISIS, how incapable is the Iraqi Army and deliberately omit the heroic advance of the Iraqi security forces on the ground.
These “new analysts” write like they are war veterans knowledgeable about the ground in Iraq. Why did the Iraqis delay the liberation of this or that city? Rarely are the heroic battles and sacrifices of the Iraqi security forces fighting ISIS on behalf of the world mentioned. Fighting ISIS in big cities, like Mosul, is not an easy task with over one and a half million civilians who stayed at home rather than leaving to a more secure place. Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi gave specific orders to secure civilians in the first place before securing the lives of the security forces that come next on the level of priorities.
“Neo-analysts” and journalists focus also on the role of the “Popular Mobilisation Units” (PMU) by giving them different titles, like the “Shiite crowd”, “sectarian crowd” and “Militia crowd” as if its members came from another world. There are more than 60% of Shiites in Iraq and the rest are Sunnis, secular Kurds, Assyrians, Shabak, Sabea and other minorities. From these same Iraqis are formed the Iraqi army units, counter-terrorism, intelligence, special forces, federal police forces, tribes, and Peshmergan as well as the PMU, which has become an integral part of the security apparatus under the leadership of the Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, the Prime Minister.
Those writing about Iraq disregard the fact that the US Army, before and during its invasion to Iraq, committed the most abominable atrocities in that country, starting with the embargo on Iraq to massacres, torture, rape and human rights abuses during the occupation of the country.
But the focus on the reputation of the PMU has other dimensions. The PMU is taking part in the Mosul operation by attacking Talafar suburb and cutting the road to Syria. Those PMU around Talafar were carefully selected: 3000 of these are from the same city of Talafar, as there are other Christians from Nineveh plains who came to recover their land from ISIS. Iraq is not made up of Sunni and Shia only.
The PMU disturbed the US Vice President Joe Biden’s plan to divide Iraq: they managed in August 2014 to defend and prevent the fall of the northern city of Amerli (Tuzkhormato) to ISIS when the terrorist group occupied almost all of Salahoddine province; stopped the fall of Samarra to ISIS when the terrorist group took control of more than half of the city, preventing another civil war similar to the one in 2006 when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi destroyed the Shia holy shrine of Askariyeyn; they prevented ISIS from entering Baghdad when the militants reached the doors of the capital; liberated the most difficult southern area of Jurf al-sakher, the heart of ISIS in Tikrit and Fallujah and contributed to the liberation of Ramadi.
The PMU leadership also convinced the Iraqi leaders to reject the US military plan to attack the northern city of Mosul a year ago before the Anbar province. If the US military plan had gone ahead, the capital would have been left without defence, with ISIS strong in Fallujah. Baghdad would have been in great danger if attacked by ISIS and the partition of Iraq would have been a foregone conclusion.
And lastly, Iraq won’t be able to defeat ISIS in Iraq unless it is defeated in Syria. Therefore, after Mosul, the battle will head toward ‘Ana, Rawa and al-Qaem on the Syrian-Iraqi borders. There is little doubt that the PMU will move forward towards the ISIS stronghold to make sure there is no return to Iraq. Discrediting the PMU in Iraq involves a preventive campaign to accuse the PMU of sectarianism and make this accusation stick before its forces engage in the Sunni majority area of Syria.
The notion of a “free unbiased press” is finished and has been replaced by the will of politicians: investigate journalism was replaced by information or disinformation from social media.
It was obvious during the US presidential campaign that the “free press” was sharing “statistics” confirming the absence of any prospect of success of Donald Trump with Hillary Clinton as a winner by 98 to 99%. This indicates that the press was following wishful thinking rather than confirming data and facts, just as they have been doing most of the time with the war in Syria and Iraq.
Elijah J. Magnier is a Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 32 years’ experience covering Europe & the Middle East.