Voltaire Network
Syria Press Review
Six times a week Voltaire Network presents a review of press articles about Syria appearing in major Western newspapers and from the Gulf.
It is laid out in two parts: a synthesis, which seeks to distill the daily messages that the political communication services convey through the media to the public at large, followed by an analytical section that focuses on certain articles which carry a particular message or an exclusive information.
Each edition comes with a compendium in Pdf format reproducing the most representative pieces.
Available in five languages​​, this press review is an analysis and decision-making support designed for professionals (researchers, journalists, diplomats, military) who need to take a step back to avoid being overwhelmed by propaganda and gain a perspective of the different strategies in progress. Every day Voltaire Network examines one hundred newspapers and magazines in German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch and Portuguese, including: ABC, Chicago Tribune, China Daily, Corriere della Sera, Dagblad De Pers, Dallas Morning News, De Morgen, De Standaard, Der Standard, Der Tagesspiegel, Diario de Noticias, Die Presse, Global Times, Die Welt, El Mundo, El Pais, Frankfürter Allgemeine Zeitung, Financial Times Deutschland, Gulf News, Haaretz, Handelsblatt, Il Fatto, Il Giornale, International Herald Tribune, Iran Daily, Jerusalem Post, Jornal de Noticias, Kleine Zeitung, Kuwait Times, L’Orient-Le Jour, La Croix, La Repubblica, La Stampa, La Vanguardia, Le Droit, Le Figaro, Le Journal de Montréal, Le Journal du dimanche, Le Monde, Le Parisien-Aujourd’hui en France, Le Temps, Libération, Libero, Moscow Times, National Post, New York Post, New York Times, Oman Daily Observer, Publico , San Francisco Chronicle, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Tageszeitung, Tehran Times, The Age, The Arab Times, The Australian, The Daily Star, The Daily Telegraph, The Globe and Mail, The Herald, The Hindu, The Independent, The Irish Times, The Khaleej Times, The National, The Saudi Gazette, The Scotsman, Times of India, Times of Oman, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Tribune de Genève, USA Today.
59 articles
« Syria Press Review » #11
Al Qaeda sets up rear base in Lebanon
Al Qaeda sets up rear base in Lebanon 21 December 2011
The Western media accuses Syria of playing a double game: on the one hand, it agrees to open its doors to the Arab League observers and, on the other, it won’t end the repression. Newspapers have echoed without any verification the accusations made by the SOHR (the London office of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood), referring to the execution of numerous deserters.
The adoption of a law extending the death penalty to arms trafficking, and not just to those guilty of blood crimes, is portrayed in the West and the Gulf as a law condemning to death those citizens who demonstrate peacefully against the government.
The Gulf press focuses on the order issued by the heads of the Gulf states to Syria (to stop the killing machine!) and to Iran (mind your own business!), which shows by contrast that the conflict is already (...)
Al-Qaeda strikes in Aleppo
Al-Qaeda strikes in Aleppo 13 February 2012
In reporting the Aleppo attacks, the international press has consecrated four times less space than usual. This can be interpreted in two ways: Either the public is getting weary of the rampant Iraqization of Syria or the press is baffled by the responsibility claims. The attacks of Aleppo were in fact first claimed by a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, then condemned by another. Simultaneously, an American intelligence report attributed them to Al-Qaeda, a claim confirmed in a statement by Ayman al-Zawahiri, current leader of the organization.
Be that as it may, no media has bothered to rectify its previous articles pinning the responsibility for identical attacks in Damascus on the Al-Assad administration; certain newspapers have even picked up the accusations of the Syrian National Council which blames the Aleppo attacks on the Syrian government, without the slightest shred of (...)
Al-Qaeda strikes in Damascus
Al-Qaeda strikes in Damascus 25 December 2011
The international media have given wide coverage to the double attack in Damascus (44 dead, 166 injured). These articles are often redundant; only a few have been included in the attached press review.
The use of suicide bombers for this type of operation is traditionally interpreted as the signature of Al Qaeda. However, the Syrian National Council and regional pro-US leaders accused the Assad government of perpetrating these attacks against its own security services.
The international press, which considers the CNS in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights) as the only reliable sources, relayed this version without verifying it.
According to the case, the editorialists aim to:
primarily negate the deployment in Syria of "Al-Qaeda in Libya" elements;
or to further aggravate the charges against President al-Assad before the International Criminal Court;
or, finally, to underscore that the Assad administration can no longer (...)
An inconsequential resignation
An inconsequential resignation 9 March 2012
The Atlanticist and, to a lesser extent, the Gulf media seized on the resignation of Abdo Hussameddin, presented as the first defection from within the Syrian government. This turnaround is perceived as the first fissure at the top levels of what appeared to be a monolithic regime.
The press, however, fails to provide any background details about the individual. Indeed, he was not in a position of political responsibility, but a senior civilian official of the oil ministry. Hence, the conjecture that the regime is crumbling doesn’t hold water.
The head of UN humanitarian operations, Valerie Amos, condemned the devastation in Baba Amr and expressed concern about the fate of its former inhabitants. Although the international press pointed out that the neighborhood had been evacuated before the major combats took place, she nevertheless claimed a few days ago that thousands of people were trapped under the bombs.
Visiting Tunisia, Turkish President Abdullah Gul has for the first (...)
Another way of transferring the Syrian case to the UN 7 January 2012
The Western and Gulf press, which has widely challenged the Arab League monitors, echoes the Qatari Prime Minister’s decision that this type of mission does not fall within the League’s competence. Then, the press reports on the Free Syrian Army commander’s request that the responsibility be passed to the United Nations.
Nobody seems to remember that the Arab League was relying on the mission’s report to seize the Security Council. No longer able to count on a report that will certify the guilt of the Assad government, the League would now expect the UN Secretary General to draft one with the desired slant and submit it to the Security Council.
Every day, the Western press has a nice story to tell. Today, it is the portrait of Fadwa Suleiman, a young actress who joined the revolution. She must not be all that famous since the Arabic newspapers assiduously recall her supporting role in a television series, just in case readers have a problem identifying (...)
Arab League monitors acknowledge presence of terrorist groups in Homs 28 December 2011
The Atlantic and Gulf media write that President al-Assad had the tanks surrounding the city of Homs pulled back, the dug out trenches filled, the corpses lying in the streets picked up and the prisons emptied, in order to conceal his crimes from the observers of the Arab League. But all this staging apparently turned out to be insufficient in view of the 70,000 people who allegedly flocked to welcome them by demonstrating at al-Saa Square against the regime, only to be dispersed with tear gas.
In this context, the Atlantic and Gulf media are questioning the credibility of the Arab League monitors who have failed so far to endorse their version of events.
Such articles leave the reader perplexed: how can journalists in Paris and Riyadh pretend to know better what is happening in Homs than the Arab League team who came to observe on the spot?
Especially since the images broadcast live on Syrian television showed indeed a huge demonstration in the center of Homs welcoming the (...)
Arab League report delayed
Arab League report delayed 20 January 2012
The press is waiting for the Arab League to release the report of its observers. Each power has its own angle: Qatar, Turkey and France hope the document will be damning and that it will be submitted to the Security Council for its authorization in view of a military intervention. On the contrary, China recommends an extension of the observer mission, while Russia has already indicated it would oppose any Security Council resolution imposing sanctions, verily authorizing the war.
In the military arena, the Syrian national army abandoned the town of Zabadani (near Lebanon) to the rebels.
For the first time in a long time, no particular message can be gleaned from this press review. However, it is far too early to conclude that the White House press service has turned the page on this issue.
The French press (weeklies and television) dedicates its columns largely to the death of Gilles Jacquier. Journalists who were in the same team as him accuse the Syrian government and attack (...)
Arab League torn between ground reality and propaganda spin 3 January 2012
Western and Gulf daily newspapers watch the Arab League squabbling over its monitors. For some, they failed in their mission since the blood continues to flow. However, their assignment was to report the facts, not to restore peace. For others, on the contrary, they have succeeded since there is no evidence of repression in the places visited, including Homs.
The second reading is mainly endorsed by the UAE press. It would allow the curtain to come down on this psychodrama without having to answer the question: if the monitors detected no sign of repression, did it really ever exist?
While it is possible that the Assad government may have pulled out its troops and tanks from Homs on the eve of the monitors’ arrival, it is highly unlikely that it managed to fill up the trenches allegedly encircling the city or to rebuild overnight the houses that had reportedly been bombarded for days and (...)
CNS rejects UN and Arab League mediation
CNS rejects UN and Arab League mediation 10 March 2012
After the resignation of a senior official from the Oil Ministry, it is the mass resignation and flight to Turkey of a group of brigadier generals which captivates the attention of the Atlanticist and Gulf press. The decomposition of the system would thus appear to be confirmed. Alas! No one can give the names of the generals and no senior officer has arrived in Turkey.
Once again the hubbub is designed to boost the patience of Western public opinion, but discredits those who were predicting the imminent fall of the Syrian regime...like a ripe fruit.
On the diplomatic front, the head of UN humanitarian operations, Valerie Amos, struck an early agreement with the Syrian government. Russia announced that it rejected the latest draft resolution tabled by the West at the Security Council, for the same reasons as the previous one. China sent a special envoy to meet with various stakeholders, which irritated Paris. UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan started his round of (...)
Damascus attacks: Western press backs off from conspiracy theory 18 March 2012
The new attacks are covered in a manner very different from the previous ones. The Atlanticist press which had ascribed the earlier attacks in Damascus and Aleppo to the Syrian secret service has backtracked from this conspiracy theory since Ayman Al-Zawahiri claimed responsibility in the name of Al-Qaeda. This time it is exercising more restraint, refraining from parroting the routine accusations emanating from the Syrian National Council against the intelligence services.
The report presented by Kofi Annan to the Security Council behind closed doors gave rise to various comments, with everyone in the West believing that he complained about President al-Assad’s lack of good will. However, the Atlanticist media hints at a possible crisis exit under the auspices of Russia: The Syrian Government would cease the crackdown while the West would drop its demands for al-Assad’s departure. On closer scrutiny, if adopted, this approach would amount to a total defeat for NATO and the GCC. In (...)
Faced with competition from the SCO, will NATO choose diplomacy or arms? 10 February 2012
While the likelihood of a conventional war against Syria has been swept aside by the Russian and Chinese double veto, Westerners have been left with no alternative plan. Above all, they do not know how to handle the conflict pitting them against the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO): Should they use diplomacy, or are they in a position to start a proxy war?
The answer to this question depends on the acceptance or denial of the decline of the U.S. empire. The war party is considering a form of low intensity conflict with militant groups operating from bases in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Realists will not fail to point out that in such a case the war will spill beyond these three states and fatally engulf Israel.
In the absence of a defined strategy, each side is trying to consolidate its positions. The Syrian National Council is heading to Qatar in the hope of being recognized by the Gulf States as the sole representative of the Syrian people instead of the Syrian Arab (...)
Foreign instructors leave, Al Qaeda arrives
Foreign instructors leave, Al Qaeda arrives 15 February 2012
The new Western discourse coincides with the withdrawal of many foreign instructors, as witnessed in the field, and with the statements of Ayman al-Zawahari (the Egyptian leader of Al-Qaeda since the official demise of Osama bin Laden) announcing the arrival of his fighters. In fact, Al-Qaeda is already on the ground inside Syria, where the Libyan Abdel Hakim Belhaj (the organization’s number-two man) has been seen supervising the "Free" Syrian Army. This charade is intended to cloak NATO’s strategy switch from a low intensity war to subcontracting terrorist actions as required.
The Arab League wants a United Nations peacekeeping force in Syria, without specifying between which factions they would be mediating and on what line of demarcation. Immediately rejected by Syria since encroaching on its sovereignty, the proposal provided Westerners with the awaited opportunity of harping on the impossibility of a military solution; a discourse in total contradiction with the one they held (...)
France ready to support regional war
France ready to support regional war 17 March 2012
The fake e-mails by the al-Assad couple released by the Guardian were startling in their naivete; everyone was thus looking forward to further developments. Consider it done: The Daily Telegraph asserts that the online shopping attributed to Asma al-Assad violates the unilateral sanctions of the European Union and is liable to two years in prison. In addition, after the Guardian’s commitment not to reveal the private e-mails, the Daily Telegraph published details of an alleged extramarital affair by President al-Assad to shatter the image of an ideal couple.
This propaganda operation is mainly orchestrated to hide what is currently happening. The Turkish Army contemplates penetrating into Syrian territory to secure a rebel base on the pretext of protecting civilians. NATO is repeating here with it did in Kosovo in terms of violating international law, but without taking center stage. This new war could find some semblance of international legitimacy if it were to garner the (...)
It is urgent to wait
It is urgent to wait 3 February 2012
The Western and Gulf press stays the course that the White House has set since the confrontation that pitted NATO members to China and Russia at the Security Council. Everyone awaited the next meeting while arranging a way out. Contrary to the usual practice, when the White House Office of Global Communications tries to develop a consensus around a background briefing, columnists draw their personal conclusions which they must then demonstrate.
The tone is set by an editorial authored by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, widely disseminated by the US press as well as in European and Gulf newspapers. After comparing the repercussions of the possible fall of Bashar al-Assad to those of the Berlin Wall - the first paving the way for the end of Iran, just like the second which had sealed the fate of the USSR - and holding a bellicose discourse, the author advocates ... for strengthening sanctions. Great victories come to those who are capable of (...)
Keep me from seeing the truth!
Keep me from seeing the truth! 2 January 2012
The Western and Gulf press focus on the motion of the Arab Parliament calling for the withdrawal of the Arab League monitors deployed in Syria because their presence endorses the version of events promoted by Assad.
Note that:
The Arab Parliament is an advisory body of the Arab League. The title of "Parliament" refers to the fact that it is composed of four parliamentarians from each of the 22 member states, although this body has no legislative powers or control specific to a parliament;
About a quarter of its members are parliamentarians who were not elected by popular vote, but appointed by their sovereign;
The Arab Parliament was the first to call for the deployment of the observers, whose withdrawal it is now requesting;
The Arab Parliament was also the first to demand economic sanctions against Syria. These sanctions were adopted to prepare for war, then repealed to allow for the deployment of the observers.
Two months ago, Assad opponents were campaigning for (...)
Media confusion around the Arab League meeting
Media confusion around the Arab League meeting 23 January 2012
The observer mission submitted its report to the Arab League. After five hours of debate, the Ad Hoc Ministerial Council extended the mission by one month within the framework of its first plan, while adopting a second one.
These events have given rise to contrasting interpretations.
The contents of the report have generally been ignored; this is because it endorses the version of the Syrian government and undermines that of the opposition. In particular, it certifies that a lethal crackdown of peaceful demonstrations never took place and that the commitments made by Damascus have been scrupulously observed (release of more than 7000 prisoners, withdrawal of troops from major cities, etc.). It further confirms the fact that armed groups are destabilizing the country.
The Ad Hoc Ministerial Committee is often portrayed as the Arab League’s executive body when, in fact, it is an Arab Plan follow-up organism consisting of 5 States out of 22 (Algeria, Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Sudan). (...)
Moral pressure heaped on Russia
Moral pressure heaped on Russia 5 February 2012
The meeting of the Security Council was preceded by a powerful media campaign to discourage Russia from backing Syria. It revolves around two themes:
The regime tortures children, claims Human Rights Watch (HRW);
The regime is responsible for the "horrible massacre", the term used to designate the assassination of over 200 people in Homs.
The HRW report does not name victims. It does not point to a motive for the torture it relates. It alleges that the torturers forced their victims to recant their faith and love Bashar al-Assad, an allusion to a takfirist literary classic which accuses the Alawites of not being Muslims. It does not refer to torture centers as being in specific buildings, but on certain government premises where torture had actually been practiced in the years 70-80, that is to say at the time of the dictatorship.
The victims are people from Homs, both civilians and military, who were abducted by armed political or mafia groups, and subsequently executed. On (...)
Moscow marks the end of the "humanitarian" illusion in Syria 19 January 2012
The press conference of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, taking stock of Russian diplomacy in 2011, was an occasion to issue a reminder about international law. Regarding Syria, the Minister reiterated that Moscow would not allow the Security Council to legalize an aggression, or even sanctions, and would continue to trade with Damascus. For his part, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry, Liu Weimin, pledged support for the Arab League observers, noting that their presence is beneficial.
If Russia’s firmness has been reported by the Vatican and German press in positive terms, it has been totally misconstrued by the rest of the European press that continues to beat the drums of war by evoking a "humanitarian emergency", and prefers to focus on the new sanctions decreed unilaterally by the (...)
NATO backs off while London and Paris still scheming 19 February 2012
Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Reuters that NATO will not intervene in Syria, even if the UN Security Council were to change its mind and give him the green light. In doing so, the Secretary General of NATO feigns to walk away from war not because of the double veto by Russia and China, but due to technical obstacles.
Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron have signed new treaties in Paris to strengthen their countries’ mutual defense. The date of the ceremony was officially chosen to commemorate the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi in Benghazi. But, in reality, it marked the fulfillment of the Lancaster House Treaty, which included a secret annex with the plan for the Benghazi uprising and regime change in Libya. Therefore, it is legitimate to ask whether the Paris summit may not also have involved the signing of a secret annex, planning for the overthrow of the Syrian regime. The final communiqué of the meeting smacks of Franco-British machinations.
The Western news agencies reported a (...)
NATO runs up against Russia and China
NATO runs up against Russia and China 2 February 2012
Westerners and Gulf monarchs were shocked by the rebuff at the hands of Russia and China at the Security Council. Their bitterness comes out in two forms: first, the media lament the division between major powers when "the massacres are still continuing"; on the other hand, they accuse Moscow of prioritizing its strategic and commercial interests over human rights. All are silent on Beijing’s stance - yet just as unequivocal as Moscow’s - which they cannot pin on any vested interests.
Some commentators are drumming up arguments to convince Russia and China to change their position. However, their editorials are more likely to have been designed to prove to Western readers that everything has been tried in vain. Indeed, the arguments given can only be ill perceived by their recipients, who are accused of lacking principles when it is precisely on behalf of their principles that Russia and China cast a veto.
In the final analysis, everything suggests that after having considered (...)
Negotiating peace or al-Assad’s departure?
Negotiating peace or al-Assad's departure? 11 March 2012
The diplomatic efforts of U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan, on the one hand, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on the other hand, are running into the blatant bad faith of Qatar, France and their protégés.
Mr. Annan could not initiate mediation between the Syrian National Council and the Syrian presidency because the SNC demands that President Bashar al-Assad’s should first resign and be replaced by his Vice President. In any event, Kofi Annan was able to meet and speak at length with President al-Assad. The president laid emphasis on the fact that no effort will be successful as long as armed groups continue to foment chaos in the country. On his part, he declared himself open to any constructive proposal. According to the Gulf-based press, Kofi Annan has suffered a setback since he failed to convince al-Assad to resign, but that goal is not part of his mandate.
Lavrov met with his counterparts from the Arab League in Cairo. They agreed on five general (...)
Overthrow Bashar al-Assad, but for whose benefit? 1 January 2012
Several demonstrations took place in the presence of the Arab League observers. According to journalists on the spot, 3 500 people in Homs turned out to protest against the regime while more than 100 000 rallied to show support for President al-Assad. But according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, based in London, there were 250 000 protesters and no supporters.
To mark the new year, many media drew up a balance sheet of the Arab "Spring." While in August Western newspapers celebrated the fledgling democracy in Tunisia and Egypt, many today bemoan that the dictators’ eviction actually benefits the totalitarianism of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis.
A careful reading reveals that this theme is taken up in particular by journalists who are closer to Israel than the United States. Implicitly, it suggests that and international intervention to topple President Bashar al-Assad - placed on an equal footing with Ben Ali, Mubarak and Gaddafi - would be a mistake. This (...)
Most popular
The Assad e-mails
The Assad e-mails
France ready to support regional war
France ready to support regional war
Foreign instructors leave, Al Qaeda arrives
Foreign instructors leave, Al Qaeda arrives
NATO runs up against Russia and China
NATO runs up against Russia and China
Who can bring down Syria?
Who can bring down Syria?
« Syria Press Review » #3
Overthrow Bashar al-Assad, but for whose benefit?
Overthrow Bashar al-Assad, but for whose benefit?
Russia’s popularity in Syria confounds the West
CNS rejects UN and Arab League mediation
CNS rejects UN and Arab League mediation
The imaginary flight of the Assad family
The imaginary flight of the Assad family