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Martin Smith's documentary, "Inside Syria", on SBS

On 10 January 2016 SBS (Australian multicultural television) screened Martin Smith's Inside Assad’s Syria. Australia is blatantly aligned with US-NATO forces that seek to remove the Syrian Government and Australian media propaganda means that we don't usually hear from the other side. Surprisingly Smith interviewed many supporters of the Assad Government and the Syrian Arab Army. But it was as if, to get this other view onto SBS the [almost theatrically grim-faced, suspicious and disapproving] journalist had to use some standard anti-Assad techniques:

Standard anti-Syrian government techniques

These were:

Continuous use of the word 'regime' instead of government, although Bashar al Assad was legally reelected in June 2014 by an overwhelming majority, despite opposition alternatives. See

Early mention of the 'notorious barrel bombs' (showed footage of bombs dropping from aircraft). No views or analysis countering these dubious claims were given. The President's own exhaustive responses to these explanations were not referred to. The video below is of an interview by Sixty Minutes with Bashar al Assad on accusations about the use of barrel bombs and of chlorine as a poisonous gas (although I don't think Martin Smith's doco mentioned chlorine.)

Although Smith interviewed people who had lost relatives to the 'rebels', the use of bloody footage seemed confined to illustrating the effects of bombing designated as carried out by the Government. There was no equivalent criticism of the 'rebels' techniques and casualties. Smith's allocated Syrian journalist, however, was killed by rebels a couple of days into the doco, which also meant that the journo was unable to complete his original itinerary. There was no sensible reflection on the killing of his journo by so-called 'rebels', although Smith did describe himself as shaken by the death.

The handling of an invitation by the government to a cultural event in Syria, a performance by the Syrian Symphony Orchestra, seemed insensitive and manipulative. Rather than appreciating that the people of Damascus are heroically maintaining cultural and state institutions, there seemed to be an implication that something else might be going on.

Visit to the famous coastal resort of Latakia, in Syria

Smith's film characterised this resort more or less as a rich Alawite stronghold. This is in line with the mainstream propaganda that Alawites in Syria are oppressing a Sunni majority. As Assad says himself, if this were true, then surely the armed forces would have got rid of him long ago, since they are 60 - 65% Sunni, and Sunnis form the majority of the population. Many Syrians will tell you, however, that they are not Sunnis or Alawites or Christians; they are Syrians. In this they are emphasising the non-sectarian nature of Syria. Smith did disclose that more than a million refugees are now living in Latakia resort.

This effect of presenting the resort as the exclusive preserve of Alawite hippocrites works to create cognitive dissonance against the information about the refugees that contradicts that first impression. A friend who is well informed on Syria told me that an acquaintance of hers seemed to derive from the Latakia part of this documentary that the Syrian wealthy, despite the war, were living high on the hog whilst the poor suffered, and entirely overlooked the part of the report that noted the presence of the refugees who now live in this 'exclusive' Alawite resort.

Sophie Shepnardze interview: Assad asks how, if most of Syria is against him, they have not got rid of him.

Despite Smith's biasing presentation, nonetheless, we did hear almost exclusively the pro-government side. We also heard the story of someone who defected from the Syrian Arab Army to the rebels then back again, although somehow the punchline escaped me. The journo's comment seemed gratuitous, that he suspected that the government had wanted him to hear about this.

Does SBS accept non-propaganda items?

Conclusion. Is it actually possible to get the other side onto SBS (or the ABC)? If you wanted to, would you have to present it within those trophes of barrel bombs and 'regime' and wear an exaggeratedly sceptical expression when interviewing pro syrian government people? In other words, should we give this journo, Martin Smith, credit for getting the other side onto SBS? Or might we assume, unfortunately, that many people would respond to Smith's propaganda techniques and his stagey suspicion by assuming that the many Syrians who openly prefer Assad leading Syria to the prospect of the country being divided up among a bunch of religious gangs, are poor brainwashed idiots in need of western intervention.This was a PBS funded documentary and they are leaders in western propaganda.


If you heard the reports this morning on the ABC, you would at least conclude that the ABC is one source you definitely CAN’T trust!

A report by Sophie McNeill from Istanbul, referred to the IS ‘threat to Turkey’, as if she had no idea that Turkey is IS main sponsor, Oil trader and arms supplier, nor the Erdogan is a pathological liar and war criminal. She then echoed his demented words by saying that ‘3 Russian nationals has been arrested in SE Turkey in connection with the bombing.’
Given that the Army of Conquest, the Saudi-Turkish mercenary force in Syria is purportedly composed of mostly Turkish Turkmen and Chechens, there are quite a few thousand of those ‘Russian nationals’ currently fighting for Turkey in Syria, whether there or with ‘IS’ – which may just be a label or generic name for all the takfiri fighters.

The ABC then compounded the story by telling us – and it was a big shock to me – that Australian army members are now part of the UAE armed forces fighting against the Houthis in Yemen – or rather assisting the Saudi coalition’s insane and illegal bombing campaign against the Yemeni resistance and national independence movement of which the Houthis are part.
And the ABC says – this is OK because our forces in Iraq operate out of an air base in the UAE and the Emirates are a part of the coalition fighting Islamic State.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has confirmed the traces of the sarin gas used in Syria are not linked with the Syrian government’s former stockpile of chemical weapons. The announcement follows an investigation carried out by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at the request of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government.

The scientific report released by the organization, and based on analyzes carried out on the bodies of the victims of chemical attacks, in fact accredits the Syrian government claims that the cases of use of chemical weapons in the civil war were to be attributed to some of the factions - almost all Islamists - that compose the anti-Assad militias front.

When the devastating sarin gas incident left some 1400 civilians dead in East Ghouta in 2013, the United States, European Union and Arab League were quick to accuse Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian military of utilizing its chemical weapons to combat Islamist rebels in the Syrian capital.

The report corroborates the Syrian government’s assertions that the faction responsible for the chemical attack, as well as 11 other instances of chemical weapons use, was the Syrian opposition.

There's a global theatre in operation, being played out by the media, against Assad, to demonize him. Islamic rebels, and the United States, are the actors in this macabre tragedy. News is off-line, but this story seems to be linked to from the al-Masdar News Twitter page -  12:48 (+10:00) 15/1/16 Ed