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Video and Transcript: Politics and war in Syria: Part One. Susan Dirgham interviews Jeremy Salt

Susan Dirgham is convener of Australians for Reconciliation in Syria (AMRIS) and Jeremy Salt is a scholar of Media propaganda and the Middle East. In Part One, they discuss the history of western interventions in the Middle East and the most recent in Syria. Then, on western mass media, Susan raises the question of why we don't hear about how Syria is a secular country, with women's rights and where women were granted the vote in 1949. Below is a mixture of description, summary and transcript. If you want to cite exactly, then you would need to listen to the video.
PART ONE:

Video: Syria whom to support whom to trust? Impressive analysis from Susan Dirgham of AMRIS

How could we allow America, NATO, Israel or other Arab states to destroy something so ancient and valuable for all humanity as Syria - the last secular Arab state? Australian peace activist, Susan Dirgham, taught English for years in Syria and got to know the country and its people very well. She argues that, without deception and our complicity through ignorance, there could be no war in Syria. But how do we work out for ourselves what is really happening in Syria and who to help? We need to understand more of Syria's history and its geopolitical position, to which she provides insight here. Just as we need to severely question the notion of US-NATO presenting a 'majority' opinion, we also need to very carefully assess what NGOs are doing in Syria. Susan is the national co-ordinator of “Australians for Mussalaha (Reconciliation) in Syria" (AMRIS). She has travelled very widely and even lived in China before it was opened to the West. When she speaks she provides testable facts and does not talk down to her audience or ask for money. Please consider asking her to speak. You may contact her at susan.dirgham51[AT[gmail.com. There is a question and answer session at the end of this video.

Valuing Secularism in Syria – Important speech by Susan Dirgham

Susan Dirgham describes herself as a peace activist. Her peace activism dates back to her involvement in the anti-Vietnam war movement when she became aware that lies were being told to promote the War, when even apparently well-intentioned people could believe these lies and spread them. She writes, "And at that time, in the US especially, it required informed, courageous individuals in the media, in churches and academia to challenge those lies in order for there to be peace. And in the countries of Indo-China, an extraordinary level of courage and resilience was needed to survive war. To sow sectarian hatred, to damn a person or a group of people or even another nation only takes a few stories, repeated over a period of time by people in positions of influence and then accepted as a truth." Susan identifies a formula for writing [propaganda] on the conflict in Syria. It is to invoke the use of chemical weapons by the Assad government as if this were established fact and to "Damn Assad and the Alawites and your article has a good chance of getting published even if you know virtually nothing." She gives the example of a Waleed Aly article doing just this, ironically just a week after the presidential election in Syria when there was a truly exceptional voter turnout and the president received overwhelming endorsement by Syrians. At the end of her speech, Susan warns that if Syria falls the danger of World War Three will be acute. Susan's highly informative and moving speech was delivered at a Social Policy Connections Public Forum at The Study Centre, Yarra Theological Union, on 6 November. The speech was filmed and we hope to be able to link to the film soon.
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