Louis Allday, "Controlling the Narrative on Syria"
Arguably, no war has been more mediated by misunderstanding than the conflict currently taking place in Syria. This article will seek to correct some of the major fallacies in circulation, illuminate how dissenting voices are forced out of the mainstream debate through smears and intimidation, and unmask the ostensibly neutral stances of a number of prominent voices on the conflict. One of the many fallacies that predominate in this prevailing narrative is that the West has not intervened in the conflict in Syria. For instance, Amnesty International has recently described the UK as "sit[ting] on the sidelines" of the conflict. This fundamentally false position ignores several years of the West and its regional allies (primarily Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar) arming, funding and training rebel groups, the crippling economic sanctions imposed against the Syrian Government, ongoing airstrikes, special forces operations, and a host of other diplomatic, military and economic measures that have been taken. Not only has the West (primarily the US) intervened, it has done so on a very large scale. For instance, in June 2015, it was revealed that the CIA's involvement in Syria had become "one of the agency's largest covert operations" in which it was spending roughly $1bn a year (about $1 for every $15 in the CIA's announced budget). At that time, this operation based out of Jordan had already "trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years". As Patrick Higgins has remarked, "[i]n other words, the United States launched a full-scale war against Syria, and few Americans actually noticed". It is vital to place this aggression in the context of long-standing US animosity to the Syrian Government. As diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have revealed, since at least 2006, the US has consistently sought to undermine it "by any available means", utilising a variety of techniques including an effort -- in co-ordination with Saudi Arabia -- to encourage Islamic fundamentalism and sectarianism in the country by playing on fears of Iranian influence. Indeed, although it is rarely mentioned, a senior US intelligence official is on record in a televised interview with Mehdi Hasan confirming that facilitating the rise of ISIS and other Islamic extremist groups in Syria and Iraq was a "wilful decision" on behalf of the Obama administration. The BBC has recently reported that ISIS use ammunition bought legally in Eastern Europe by the US and Saudi Governments that is then transported via Turkey into Syria and Iraq, "sometimes only two months from leaving the factory". When US intervention in Syria is acknowledged, it is regularly portrayed as having been small-scale and insufficient. Professor Gilbert Achcar of SOAS has remarked that "Washington's support to the opposition is more the stuff of jokes than anything serious". Given that Achcar made this observation six months after the revelations concerning the enormous scale of the CIA's Syria operation, it is hard to imagine exactly what level of military support would be required in order to be considered more than a 'joke'. This misleading narrative of non-existent or inadequate US intervention, coupled with a propensity to defend it with insults, is extremely common, including among commentators who write for ostensibly left-leaning publications. Some pundits such as Murtaza Hussain of The Intercept have recently even gone so far as to claim that the US is in fact intervening in Syria, but "in favor of Assad", an absurd argument that Glenn Greenwald has also expressed.
Source: Louis Allday, "Controlling the Narrative on Syria" (http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2016/allday131216.html)