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cartoonist Bruce Petty

Does Bashar al-Assad really have to go? Cartoonist Bruce Petty talks to Dr Jeremy Salt.

Video & transcript: Bruce Petty interviews Dr Jeremy Salt, Middle Eastern scholar. Bruce Petty is a highly regarded political satirist and cartoonist as well as an award-winning film maker.

"There always has to be a 'madman' in the Middle East," explains Jeremy Salt, when asked why we constantly hear that 'Bashar al-Assad has to go'? Of course Bashar al-Assad is not really mad. Jeremy explains how the west, in its long exploitation of the Middle East, has invented crises that it then pretends to help with, and these tend to feature a 'madman' whom the people have to be saved from. In reaction Middle Eastern governments tend to be defensive and authoritarian, in order to survive constant foreign interference. Even if Bashar went, the Syrian state would remain the same. Salt gives a fluent history of how the west has used the Middle East, and how western politicians expected to knock Syria over easily, but underestimated it. All they have done is weaken it and assorted armed and dangerous groups including ISIS have risen up through the cracks they have created. But many Syrians really like Bashar al-Assad and think he is their best chance for reform. (See the third part in this series, "Has the Syrian president killed more than ISIS and other questions," to hear about how al-Assad is actually legally elected and had brought in reforms prior to the current crisis.) Petty asks about beheading and the role of religion and Islam in today's crisis. Salt agrees that Islam has been taken over by conservatives and extremists, but precises that this is a political ideological take-over that has little to do with Islamic religious base.

Cartoonist Bruce Petty and Dr Jeremy Salt: Where news comes from: reporting on the Middle East

Video and transcript inside. Second in series. First one, on Bashar al-Assad, is here. The third one is here. Australian cartoonist, Bruce Petty, & Dr Jeremy Salt, Middle East scholar and former journalist discuss news reporting on the Middle-East: Do we live with false assumptions? Bruce Petty and Dr Salt knew each other when they both worked for Australian newspapers and Bruce asks Jeremy for his recollections about mistakes in reporting on the Middle East. Jeremy Salt is the author of The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands, (University of California Press, 2008). Until recently, Dr Salt was based in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, where he ran courses in the history of the modern Middle East, in politics and in politics, propaganda and the media.

Cartoonist Bruce Petty asks Dr Jeremy Salt: Has Bashar al-Assad killed more people than ISIS? and similar questions

Bruce Petty is a highly regarded political satirist and cartoonist as well as an award-winning film maker. He went to Syria in 2009 (before the war) on a project to interview Syrian intellectuals and university students about their political views. Dr Jeremy Salt is a former journalist, turned academic and is the author of The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands, (University of California Press, 2008). Until recently, Dr Salt was based in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, where he ran courses in the history of the modern Middle East, in politics and in politics, propaganda and the media. The story behind this series: On 16 November 2015 a small group of concerned Australian citizens got together to talk about the problems of getting real information out to Australians and other US-NATO allies about war in Syria, in spite of mainstream press efforts to confuse the public. Bruce Petty and Jeremy Salt were part of that group. Inside is the transcript of the embedded video. (There are two other videos in this series: "Cartoonist Bruce Petty and Dr Jeremy Salt: Where news comes from: reporting on the Middle East." and "Does Bashar al-Assad really have to go? Cartoonist Bruce Petty talks to Dr Jeremy Salt")

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