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Video: SBS interview with Syrian President 1 July 2016

It was great to see that SBS Australia actually published an interview by Luke Waters of the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, last night. Assad criticized the double standards of the west, by which the west openly attacks the Syrian government politically, but continues to deal with it behind the scenes. He included Australia in this criticism. He called for a more humanitarian and less costly solution to the refugee crisis through stopping support to the terrorists. SBS's presentation of the interview was, however, very poor. The interview was preceded and followed by extremely biased material and one cannot help but think of the influence of Saudi funding on the presentation of Middle Eastern affairs by western media.

Particularly gratuitous seemed the opinion of a former Australian ambassador to Egypt, Bob Bowker, who, whilst acknowledging that Syria had been very stable (but not mentioning that it was the last of the stable governments in the Middle East apart from Iran) characterised Assad as a once 'progressive' president, who had then [unexplained] stopped being progressive; there had been protests and he had so brutally put them down that five years later, the country was still being torn apart because of that dissatisfaction. Bowker pretended that Assad had no reason to blame the disintegration of Syria on foreign-backed armies. This seemed quite incredible since the presence of multiple anti-government armies funded by the United States and various NATO entities, but especially Qatar and Saudi Arabia, is well known. Bowker is also an adjunct professor at the Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies, ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences.

Who funds such ahistorical bias? The almost blanket anti-Syrian Government media coverage which includes 'expert academic comment' in Australia and the West is probably largely funded by Saudi dollars.[1] One cannot forget that Saudi Arabia and Qatar fund study centers and other organisations and governments all over the world. In fact they are said to be responsible for 20 per cent of Hilary Clinton's campaign fund. Yet Saudi Arabia and Qatar receive little criticism from Australia or NATO although they are among the greatest human rights abusers and the most repressive governments in the world and Saudi Arabia is currently conducting a genocidal war in Yemen.

Transcript of Interview

(This interview transcript if from the Lebanese Communication Group Al-Manar and the video was published on the Syrian President's youtube channel. This transcript and video has also been published (1/78/16) on the Syrian Free Press.)


The following is the full text of the interview:

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you for speaking with SBS Australia.

President Assad: You’re most welcome in Syria.

Question 1: It’s now more than five years since the Syrian crisis began. It’s estimated somewhere around a quarter of a million people have been killed, many of them civilians. There’s an undeniable humanitarian disaster. How far into the crisis do you think you are, and is there an end in sight?

President Assad: Of course, there is an end in sight, and the solution is very clear. It’s simple yet impossible. It’s simple because the solution is very clear, how to make dialogue between the Syrians about the political process, but at the same time fighting the terrorism and the terrorists in Syria. Without fighting terrorists, you cannot have any real solution. It’s impossible because the countries that supported those terrorists, whether Western or regional like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, don’t want to stop sending all kinds of support to those terrorists. So, if we start with stopping this logistical support, and as Syrians go to dialogue, talk about the constitution, about the future of Syria, about the future of the political system, the solution is very near, not far from reach.

Question 2: Much of the reporting in the West at the moment suggests that the demise of the Islamic State is imminent. Do you believe that’s true, and how far away from seizing Raqqa, this very important city of Raqqa, do you believe you are?

President Assad: It’s not a race. Raqqa is as important as Aleppo, as Damascus, as any other city. The danger of those terrorist groups is not about what land do they occupy, because it’s not a traditional war. It’s about how much of their ideology can they instill in the mind of the people in the area that they sit or live in. Indoctrination, this is the most dangerous thing. So, reaching Raqqa is not that difficult militarily, let’s say. It’s a matter of time. We are going in that direction. But the question when you talk about war is about what the other side, let’s say the enemy, could do, and that’s directly related to the effort of Turkey, especially Erdogan, in supporting those groups, because that’s what’s happening since the beginning. If you talk about Syria as an isolated military field, you can reach that area within a few months or a few weeks, let’s say, but without taking into consideration the Turkish effort in supporting the terrorists, any answer would be a far cry from the reality, an un-factual answer.

Question 3: Mr. President, how concerned are you about recent fatal clashes which have been reported between your longtime ally Hezbollah and your own forces?

There is good Syrian-Russian-Iranian coordination on fighting terrorism

President Assad: Fighting between us and Hezbollah? They are not fighting. They support the Syrian Army. They don’t fight against the Syrian Army, they fight with the Syrian Army. The Syrian Army and Hezbollah, with the support of the Russian Air Forces, we are fighting all kinds of terrorist groups, whether ISIS or al-Nusra or other affiliated groups with Al Qaeda that’s affiliated automatically to al-Nusra and ISIS.

Question 4: So, there have been some recent reports of clashes between… are those reports incorrect.

President Assad: No, they are talking not about clashes; about, let’s say, differences and different opinions. That’s not true, and if you look at the meeting that happened recently between the Ministers of Defense in Iran, in Tehran; Syrian, Russian, and Iranian, this means there’s good coordination regarding fighting terrorism.

Question 5: To be clear, do you categorize all opposition groups as terrorists?

President Assad: Definitely not, no. When you talk about an opposition group that adopts the political means, they’re not terrorists. Whenever you hold machineguns or any other armaments and you terrorize people and you attack civilians and you attack public and private properties, you are a terrorist. But if you talk about opposition, when you talk about opposition it must be Syrian opposition. It cannot be a surrogate opposition that works as a proxy to other countries like Saudi Arabia or any other country. It must be a Syrian opposition that’s related to its Syrian grassroots, like in your country. It’s the same, I think.

Question 6: You said recently that the ceasefire offered Syrian people at least a glimmer of hope. How, five months on, do you think that hope is going?

President Assad: Yeah, it is. It’s still working, the ceasefire, but we don’t have to forget that terrorist groups violate this agreement, on a daily basis. But at the same time, we have the right, according to that agreement, to retaliate whenever the terrorists attack our government forces. So, actually you can say it’s still working in most of the areas, but in some areas it’s not.

Question 7: There are various accounts of how the Syrian crisis began. Some say it was children graffiting anti-government slogans and they were dealt with brutally by the government. I understand you don’t accept that narrative. How, in your view, did the crisis begin?

President Assad: It’s a mixture of many things. Some people demonstrated because they needed reform. We cannot deny this, we cannot say “no everybody was a terrorist” or “everyone was a mercenary.” But the majority of those demonstrators – I’m not talking about the genuine demonstrators – were paid by Qatar in order to demonstrate, then later they were paid by Qatar in order to revolt with armaments, and that’s how it started, actually. The story of children being attacked, this is an illusive story. It didn’t happen. Of course, you always have, let’s say, mistakes happening in the practice on the ground, like what happened in the United States recently, during the last year, but this is not a reason for people to hold machineguns and kill policemen and soldiers and so on.

Question 8: You do say that some of these people legitimately needed reform. Was that as a result of any heavy-handedness from your government at all?

President Assad: No, we had reform in Syria. It started mainly after 2000, in the year 2000. Some people think it was slow, some people think it was too fast, this is subjective, not objective, but we were moving in that regard. But the proof that it wasn’t about the reform, because we made all the requested reforms after the crisis started five years ago, and nothing has changed. So, it wasn’t about reform. We changed the constitution, we changed the laws that the opposition asked for, we changed many things, but nothing happened. So, it wasn’t about the reform; it was about money coming from Qatar, and most of the people that genuinely asked for reform at the beginning of the crisis, they don’t demonstrate now, they don’t go against the government, they cooperate with the government. They don’t believe, let’s say, in the political line of this government, and this is their right and that’s natural, but they don’t work against the government or against the state institutions. So, they distinguish themselves from the people who supported the terrorists.

Question 9: How do you respond to the fact that some of your ministers defected and cited brutality as reason?

President Assad: Actually, they defected because they’ve been asked to do so by, some of them, Saudi Arabia, some of them by France, it depends on the country they belong to. And now, they are belonging to that so-called opposition that belongs to those countries, not to the Syrians. They have no values in Syria, so we wouldn’t worry about that. It didn’t change anything. I mean it didn’t affect the fact or the reality in Syria.

Question 10: One of your main backers, Russia, has called for a return to the peace talks. Do you think that’s a good idea?

President Assad: You mean in Geneva?

Journalist: Yes.

Geneva negotiations need to have the basic principles in order to be fruitful

President Assad: Yeah, of course, we support every talk with every Syrian party, but in reality those talks haven’t been started yet, and there’s no Syrian-Syrian talks till this moment, because we only made negotiations with the facilitator, which is Mr. de Mistura. Actually, it hasn’t started. So, we support the principle, but in practice you need to have a certain methodology that didn’t exist so far. So, we need to start, but we need to have the basic principles for those negotiations to be fruitful.

Question 11: One thing that intrigues a lot of people about the Syrian crisis is why your close allies Iran and Russia stay so loyal?

By defending Syria, allies are defending their stability and interests

President Assad: Because it wasn’t about the President, it’s not about the person. This is the misinterpretation, or let’s say the misconception in the West, and maybe part of the propaganda, that Russia and Iran supported Assad, or supported the President. It’s not like this. It’s about the whole situation. The chaos in Syria is going to provoke a domino effect in our region, that’s going to affect the neighboring countries, it’s going to affect Iran, it’s going to affect Russia, it’s going to affect Europe, actually. So, when they defend Syria, they defend the stability and they defend their stability, they defend their interest. And at the same time, it’s about the principle. They defend the Syrian people and their right to protect themselves. Because if they defend the President and the Syrian people are not with him and don’t support him, I cannot withstand five years just because Russia and Iran support me. So, it’s not about the President, it’s about the whole situation, the bigger picture, let’s say.

Question 12: Do you have any dialogue either direct or indirectly with the United States?

Western countries are dealing with Syria through back channels

President Assad: At all, nothing at all. Indirect, yes, indirect, through different channels. But if you ask them they will deny it, and we’re going to deny it. But in reality, it exists; the back channels.

Question 13: What are some of those channels?

President Assad: I mean, let’s say, businessmen going and traveling around the world and meeting with the officials in the United States and in Europe, they meet in Europe, and they try to convey certain messages, but there’s nothing serious, because we don’t think the administration, the American administration, is serious about solving the problem in Syria.

Question 14: Well, quite recently, there were reports more than 50 diplomats have called for what they described as “real and effective military strikes” against you, against Syria. Does this in any way concern you, and do you think it signals a more aggressive policy from the United States towards Syria moving forward?

American administrations are famous of creating problems, but they never solve any

President Assad: No, warmongers in every American administration always exist. It’s not something new. But we wouldn’t give a fig, let’s say, about this communique, but it’s not about this communique; it’s about the policy, it’s about the actions. The difference between this administration and the previous one, Bush’s one, is that Bush sent his troops. This one is sending mercenaries, and turned a blind eye to what Saudi Arabia and Turkey and Qatar did, since the beginning of the crisis. So, it’s the same policy. It’s a militaristic policy, but in different ways. So, this communique is not different from the reality on the ground. This is asking for war, and the reality is a war.

Question 15: You referred to the previous government, the Bush government. There are some who say one of the reasons you’ve survived as long as a government has been America’s reluctance to get on the ground in another war in the Middle East. Do you not accept that, based on what you’re saying?

President Assad: Yeah, the American administrations since the 50s are very famous of creating problems but they never solve any problems, and that’s what happened in Iraq. Bush invaded Iraq, in a few weeks he could occupy Iraq, but then what’s next? It’s not about occupying. This is a great power. We’re not a great power. So, it’s not about America occupying Syria. What’s next? What do they want to achieve? They haven’t achieved anything. They failed in Libya, in Iraq, in Yemen, in Syria, everywhere. They only created chaos. So, if the United States wants to create more chaos it can, it can create chaos, but can they solve the problem? No.

Question 16: Do you have a preference who wins the upcoming US election?

President Assad: Actually no, we never bet on any American president, because usually what they say in the campaign is different from their practice after they become president, and Obama is an example, so we don’t have to wait. We have to wait and see what policy they’re going to adopt, whoever wins the elections.

Question 17: So, you can see a circumstance where Syria would work collaboratively with the United States and the West?

We are not against cooperation with the US based on mutual interest

President Assad: We don’t have a problem with the United States, they’re not our enemy, they don’t occupy our land. We have differences, and those differences go back to the 70s and maybe before that, but in many different times, let’s say, and events and circumstances, we had cooperation with the United States. So, we’re not against this cooperation. But, this cooperation means talking about and discussing and working for the mutual interest, not for their interest at the expense of our interest. So, we don’t have a problem.

Question 18: Mr. President, you’ve spent a lot of time yourself, as you’ve just said, in the United Kingdom. Can you see there being any repercussions for Britain’s decision to exit the European Union for Syria and for the Syrian crisis?

British people are revolting against their “second-tier” and “disconnected” politicians

President Assad: I don’t think I can elaborate about that, as it’s a British issue, and I’m not British neither European. But at the same time I can say that this surprising result, maybe, has many different components, whether internal as economic and external as the worry from the terrorism, security issues, refugees, and so on. But this is an indication for us, as those officials who used to give me the advice about how to deal with the crisis in Syria, and say “Assad must go” and “he’s disconnected” proven to be disconnected from reality, otherwise they wouldn’t have asked for this referendum, but I think this is a revolt of the people there against, I would call them sometimes second-tier politicians. They needed special, let’s say, statecraft officials, to deal their country. If another administration came and understands that the issue of refugees and security is related to the problem in our region, this is where you’re going to have a different policy that will affect us positively. But I don’t have now a lot of hope about this. Let’s say we have a slim hope, because we don’t know who’s going to come after Cameron in the UK.

Question 19: Can I ask; Australia is part of the international coalition to defeat the Islamic State. Obviously, that’s one of your goals, so in that instance there’s a shared goal. Do you welcome international intervention when there’s a shared goal like that.

President Assad: Actually, we welcome any effort to fight terrorism in Syria, any effort, but this effort first of all should be genuine, not window-dressing like what’s happening now in northern Syria where 60 countries couldn’t prevent ISIS from expanding. Actually, when the Russian air support started, only at that time when ISIS stopped expanding. So, it needs to be genuine. Second, it needs to be through the Syrian legitimate government, not just because they want to fight terrorism and they can go anywhere in the world. We are a legitimate government and we are a sovereign country. So, only on these two circumstances we welcome any foreign support to fight terrorism.

Question 20: A number of Australians have died fighting for either the Kurdish militia or the Islamic State. Do you have a message for these young people who feel so enraged by what’s taking place in Syria that they travel over here to fight?

President Assad: Again, the same, let’s say, answer. If there are foreigners coming without the permission of the government, they are illegal, whether they want to fight terrorists or want to fight any other one. It is the same. It’s illegal, we can call it.

Question 21: Mr. President, Australian politicians have used very strong language about your role in the crisis, as have other leaders, internationally. Australia’s Prime Minister has referred to you as a “murderous tyrant,” saying that you’re responsible for killing thousands of innocent civilians. Australia’s opposition leader has called you a “butcher.” Yet Australia’s official position is still to work with you toward a peace agreement. How do you reconcile those two very different positions?

Western nations attack Syrian government and yet deal with it under the table

President Assad: Actually, this is the double standard of the West in general. They attack us politically and they send us their officials to deal with us under the table, especially the security, including your government. They all do the same. They don’t want to upset the United States. Actually, most of the Western officials only repeat what the United States wants them to say. This is the reality. So, I think these statements, I just can say they are disconnected from our reality, because I’m fighting terrorists, our army is fighting terrorists, our government is against terrorists, the whole institutions are against terrorists. If you call fighting terrorism butchery, that’s another issue.

Question 22: Australia has agreed to take an additional twelve thousand Syrian refugees; some have already arrived. Do you have a message for these Syrians, many of whom still say they love Syria and they want to return. Do you have a message for those people, as I said, who are in Australia, and other countries around the world?

A more humanitarian and less costly European solution to refugee crisis is stopping support to terrorists

President Assad: Actually, you mentioned a very important point. Most of the refugees that left Syria, they want to come back to Syria. So, any country that helped them enter their new country, let’s say, their new homeland, is welcome as a humanitarian action, but again there is something more humanitarian and less costly: is to help them staying in their country, help them going back by helping the stability in Syria, not to give any umbrella or support to the terrorists. That’s what they want. They want the Western governments to take decisive decisions against what Saudi Arabia and other Western countries, like France and UK, are doing in order to support the terrorists in Syria just to topple the government. Otherwise, those Syrians wouldn’t have left Syria. Most of them, they didn’t leave because they are against the government or with the government; they left because it’s very difficult to live in Syria these days.
 

Question 23: Do you hope that these people will return and would you facilitate for them to return?
President Assad: Definitely, I mean losing people as refugees is like losing human resources. How can you build a country without human resources? Most of those people are educated, well trained, they have their own businesses in Syria in different domains. You lose all this, of course, we need.

Question 24: The Commission for International Justice and Accountability says there are thousands of government documents which say has proved your government sanctioned mass torture and killings. In the face of that evidence, how do you say that no crimes have taken place, and I point also to other independent organizations, which are critical of deliberate targeting hospitals. Do you concede that some mistakes have been made as you’ve targeted some rebel-held areas?

President Assad: You are talking about two different things. One of them, the first one is the reports. The most important report that’s been financed by Qatar, just to defame the Syrian government, and they have no proof, who took the pictures, who are the victims in those pictures, and so on. Like you can forge anything if you want now on the computer. So, it is not credible at all. Second, talking about attacking hospitals or attacking civilians, the question, the very simple question is: why do we attack hospitals and civilians? I mean the whole issue, the whole problem in Syria started when those terrorists wanted to win the hearts of the Syrians. So, attacking hospitals or attacking civilians is playing into the hands of the terrorists. So, if we put the values aside now for a while, let’s talk about the interests. No government in this situation has any interest in killing civilians or attacking hospitals. Anyway, if you attack hospitals, you can use any building to be a hospital. No, these are an anecdotal claims, mendacious statements I can say; they are not credible at all. We’re still sending vaccines to those areas under the control of the terrorists. So, how can I send vaccines and attack the hospitals? This is a contradiction.

Question 25: Mr. President, as a father and as a man, has there been one anecdote, one story, one image from the crisis, which has affected you personally more than others?

President Assad: Definitely, we are humans, and I am Syrian like the other Syrians. I will be more sympathetic with any Syrian tragedy affecting any person or family, and in this region, we are very emotional people, generally. But as an official, I am not only a person, I am an official. As an official, the first question you ask when you have that feeling is what are you going to do, what are you going to do to protect other Syrians from the same suffering? That’s the most important thing. So, I mean, this feeling, this sad feeling, this painful feeling, is an incentive for me to do more. It’s not only a feeling.

Question 26: What’s your vision for Syria? How do you see things in two to three years?

President Assad: After the crisis or…? Because, the first thing we would like to see is to have Syria stable as it used to be before, because it was one of the most stable countries and secure countries around the world, not only in our region. So, this the first thing. If you have this, you can have other ambitions. Without it you cannot. I mean, if you have this, the other question: how to deal with the new generation that lived the life of killing, that saw the extremism or learned the extremism or indoctrinated by Al Qaeda-affiliated groups, and so on. This is another challenge. The third one is bringing back those human resources that left as refugees in order to rebuild Syria. Rebuilding the country as buildings or infrastructure is very easy; we are capable of doing this as Syrians. The challenge is about the new generation.

Question 27: How do you think history will reflect on your presidency?

President Assad: What I wish is to say that this is the one who saved his country from the terrorists and from the external intervention. That is what I wish about it. Anything else would be left to the judgment of the Syrian people, but this is my only wish.

Journalist: Mr. President, Thank you very much for speaking with SBS Australia.

President Assad: Thank you very much.

NOTES

Funding of universities with Saudi dollars has been abundantly flagged as unwise because of Saudi promotion of the doctrine of Wahhabism which is the basis of many Islamic terrorist groups. However, what has not been discussed in Australia is the way such funds can then influence commentary on foreign affairs and the wars that the Saudis back. The almost blanket anti-Syrian Government media coverage which includes 'expert academic comment' in the West is probably largely funded by Saudi dollars. In 2006 it was reported that "Prince Al-Waleed has recently bought 5.46% of the voting shares of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s diversified international media and entertainment empire that includes Fox News Channel (FNC). Fox had been reporting on the Saudi role in the promotion of Islamist terror, and it is thought that the prince may hope to dampen any potential criticism by his investment." (Implications of Saudi Funding to Western Academic Institutions)

Mervyn Bendle, "Secret Saudi funding of Australian institutions," News Weekly, February 21, 2009
"Many Australian universities, now driven entirely by financial priorities, have uncritically welcomed Saudi sources of funding, even though this creates a major national security problem, writes Mervyn F. Bendle. Massive funding is presently being provided by Saudi Arabia to promote Wahhabism, the fundamentalist, exclusivist, punitive, and sectarian form of Islam that is both the Saudi state religion, and the chief theological component of Sunni versions of Islamism, the totalitarian ideology guiding jihadism and most of the active terrorist groups in the world. Globally, this money is flowing to terrorist groups, political parties and religious and community groups, as well as to universities and schools. In Australia, there is concern that such funding could damage and even corrupt the Australian university system, especially given the existing ideological bias, political naivety, opportunism, managerialism, and the pseudo-entrepreneurial attitudes of many university academics and administrators. The question of how foreign powers and agents are able to influence, direct or even control tertiary education in Australia and other Western countries is vitally important. This is because the rise of Islamism, jihadism and the present terrorism crisis increasingly involve fourth-generation warfare (4GW)." [...] "An excellent case study of how Saudi funding can impact on Australian universities is the recent fiasco at Queensland's Griffith University. In April 2008, it was revealed that Griffith University "practically begged the Saudi Arabian embassy to bankroll its Islamic campus for $1.3 million", assuring the Saudis that arrangements could be kept secret if required. (The Australian, April 22, 2008)."

"Given the vast sums of petrodollars and the availability of useful idiots and agents of influence in strategic positions, it is unlikely that Australian universities will resist the allure of Saudi funding, nor will they resist pressure to guide their teaching and research in an Islamist direction, especially in connection with the war on terror, the history of Islam, the Middle East conflict, Islam and the West, and the role of women. Consequently, it will only be continuing public and academic vigilance and political pressure that will protect Australia's tertiary education system, moderate Muslim communities and liberal democratic traditions." Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-10-13/32626

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Comments

This comment has also been posted to the Free Syrian Press page that the above interview has been republished from.

It is striking just how a leader, who our political 'leaders' and mainstream media would have us believe is a murderous and corrupt tyrant, has allowed himself to be scrutinised to such a degree by the newsmedia including 60 Minutes and SBS, which are openly hostile to him.

If Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop or Opposition Leader Bill Shorten were to ever to a level of scrutiny similar to what President al-Assad faced in that interview, they would not do nearly as well. If their policies toward Syria were scrutinised to this degree they would be torn to shreds.

As we know from the Presidential election of 3 June 2014, President Bashar al-Assad is far more popular with Syrians than the leaders of either of the two major parties, which just contested the Federal election, with Australians.

At least now, because so may people voted for parties other than the two major parties, in the recent Australian Federal election, there is hope some of the newer members of the Australian Parliament will challenge the lying mainstream media narrative about Syria from the floor of the Australian Parliament.

As the Syrian Girl has noted on Twitter, Syrian doctors, who have fled their homeland and immigrated to Germany, are now saving the lives of Germans whilst other Syrians are being killed or dying of wounds in the defence of their homeland against terrorist invaders. For more about this see Syrian Doctors Are Saving German Lives – and That’s a Problem (7/3/16) | Foreign Policy.

In a related story, Doctors from Germany save lives in Syria and risk their own (25/5/16) by Naomi Conrad | Deutsche Welle :

Doctors from Germany are secretly caring for wounded rebels in bombed-out cellars - and putting their own lives at risk.

Naomi Conrad then describes how a Syrian doctor, who calls himself Omar, who also treated wounded terrorists in Syria is now working in Germany. The article claims that on "one cold night a few months ago, he sneaked across the Turkish-Syrian border into Syria – following a call on Facebook by people in a small village in Northern Syria's mountains, who were desperately looking for an experienced surgeon".

However, the rest of the article repeats the lying Western mainstream media narrative about Syria. The fact that Syria is facing an invasion of tens of thousands terrorists, financed and armed by the dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and Qatar is also ignored.

How, such a 'regime', so corrupt and hated by the people of Syria, has been able to hold on to power for more than five years now has not explained by Naomi Conrad.

In a shallow article by Angela Meade, entitled, " Journalism or propaganda? SBS under scrutiny over its waltz with Bashar" the touted independent Guardian tries to put down SBS's recent foray into checking the facts with the designated 'enemy'. One guesses the author was only trawling for reactions and she got them. I don't think that letters to the ed are copyright since they are unpaid, so, please enjoy as copied and pasted below from teh article at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/07/journalism-or-propaganda-sbs-under-scrutiny-over-its-waltz-with-bashar-weekly-beast?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other#comments:

blarneybanana
4h ago
0 1

The west needs to make up its mind. After five years of openly supporting various oppositions, he still heads a coherent government and military.

As galling as it is, we must negotiate with him, and be realistic.

Even israel is sitting on the fence with this one (even occasionally helping him out by eliminating various threats)
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ligaff
6h ago
0 1

I'm sorry.

SBS played an interview with the leader of another sovereign country, involved in a proxy war with Saudi Arabian Wahabbi jihadist, these terrorists being aided, supplied and facilitated also by Bahrain, Qatar, the US and Turkey, who himself has a fair slice of popular support within his country, as exemplified by the majority non-Alawite Muslims who make up the Syrian governments armed forces, and SBS are in trouble for this piece of actual journalism and for not supporting and proliferating the propaganda paradigm of those countries set on regime change and the privatization of state resources in Syria.

Do we have to wait another fifteen years for a Chilcott Report on the Syrian War?
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bonniejoan
13h ago
0 1

We know the media is biased and our recent vote choices have reflected that. One in four opted to vote against the big two. Yes, we know the minority parties are whackos. But, so are the big two - lies, misinformation, deliberate psychobabble nonsense. Please, Lord, give me a statesman to vote for. Please! Someone with a decades' long vision for my country. Someone who will tell me that the welfare burden is unsustainable. Someone to tell me that my kids will get a job, a mortgage, a family. Lord, then give me grandchildren! As for Assad, just another strongman - supported by the tribal intricacies of his culture, alien to mine. And, Lord, give me an unbiased ABC where once one channel gave us much more than it does nowadays. I used to tell my students, "Watch, and listen to, the ABC. You will get an education". To all those students - mia culpa!
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blarneybanana bonniejoan
4h ago

0 1

The last statesman we had was Malcolm Fraser. he ignored the pollsters and shock jocks and simply got on with the job of Whitlam's reforms, and never bothered to claim any of it.
He also managed to keep a lid on the lying rodent, or to quote the wonderful John CLarke (as Fred Dagg), speaking of LR's definition of an honest man: 'a man who is dishonest, but is quite open about it.'
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artfuldodger84
13h ago
0 1

Waltz with Bashar. Well played
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ChristinemSmith
13h ago
3 4

I was really impressed with the interview with Assad. Never heard/seen him interviewed before, and given the unwaveringly negative portrayal of him, I have wondered if government/media representation is another hatchet job like the reporting and 'information' prior the Iraq war. The journalist asked some tough questions, watching at home we commented he was pretty brave! Overall, it was good to have an interview with someone we hear and see a lot ABOUT, but rarely FROM the horse's mouth. To me, this was actually news, and proper journalism, not just reading a press release or chatting about - oh sorry 'analysing' - poll numbers! Good on SBS.
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John Dow
14h ago
5 6

It seems that more and more we are a becoming a country where it is seen as OK to shut down or dismiss viewpoints that don't fit the mould. In the vein of disparaging completely that luckless Muslim fellow on the populist ABC panel show Q and Approved answers.

I watched the Assad interview and I saw a man who believed what he said and had reasons for saying what he said. I keep an open mind about the truth of his statements but I don't believe that the western media and politicians are any more honest than he is, they just believe different sides of the story.

SBS was right to broadcast this interview and those who seek to have such alternative views aired need to take a good long hard look at the current state of our own 'news' that is fed to us. Classic example is happening today. The Aussie media is spending hours and hours on the deaths of a total of 7 unfortunate motorists and policemen in America after devoting all of two minutes each to the hundreds killed in sectarian violence in Bangladesh and Iraq. I rest my case.
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Darook523
17h ago
4 5

Interesting how mainstream media interviews that are edited, sometimes actually changing the thrust of what was actually said, is professional journalism, and yet an unedited interview is propaganda? And therein lies the problem with our mainstream media.

As to Assad, Syria is none of our business, and by all accounts life there for the average person is now dramatically worse since the US undertook their usual regime change war. And yet lapdog Australia, as usual, supports them all the way despite the horrendous death toll, widespread rapes and taking of sex slaves. Another win for regime change.
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Audrie Scott
17h ago
3 4

This was an excellent interview and I highly applaud SBS for screening it. Both sides of every story should be told, and usually we just get our middle eastern news filtered through "President Obama has said".

That's where the propaganda is.
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sorrentina
20h ago
5 6

I watched the entire Assad interview and it was not propaganda- it was good journalism. Assad was asked hard questions- how he answered them is up for the viewer to judge. Obviously he tried to use the interview for his own propaganda purposes- but you have to remove the subjects desires from the journalists role. Otherwise any interview with a politician could be deemed 'propaganda'.

It is important that a person like Assad have an opportunity to engage in dialogue- regardless of what you think of him. Failing this- all we would get would be largely Western viewpoints (arguably much of which is propaganda) on the Syrian crisis.

Perhaps people should have listened to Gadaffi when he warned that he was fighting against Al Qaeda? Sure he was an awful murdering dictator: bit look at Libya today... Perhaps we should have listened to the Saddam when he said their was no current WMD programs in Iraq? Now Assad is telling us that the Syrian army is fighting against fundamentalist wahabi Jihadists: ISIS, Al Qaida, Al Nusra, et al- are we to assume that because Assad is a very bad man- and despite much clear evidence that supports his claim- that there is no truth in what he says?

Shall we, eyes wide shut- continue to support the arming of the Anti-Assad opposition groups? Shall we ignore the documented role of Turkey, several Gulf States, and leading Western nations in fermenting the God-Awful Syrian war by deliberately arming and enabling fundamentalist terrorists? Journalism means airing the views of all parties to a given issue: regardless of peoples opinions about particular individuals.
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gondwanaboy sorrentina
16h ago

3 4

Shall we, eyes wide shut- continue to support the arming of the Anti-Assad opposition groups? Shall we ignore the documented role of Turkey, several Gulf States, and leading Western nations in fermenting the God-Awful Syrian war by deliberately arming and enabling fundamentalist terrorists? Journalism means airing the views of all parties to a given issue: regardless of peoples opinions about particular individuals.

That's been the problem with the msm for quite some time. It's totally biased and unbalanced in its presentation of events. It's turned into the spokesperson for the government or 'propaganda machine' for vested interests and their agendas.
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ChristinemSmith sorrentina
13h ago

1 2

A very thoughtful and intelligent comment, thank you. It was good to have the chance to see Assad speak in person - wish there was more of this type of journalism. I think you are right that Assad is a bad man, but does that make his claims untrue? We don't know nearly enough and the people who are supposed to be telling us are quarreling because someone did their 'duty' to the public instead of following the 'approved narrative' line!
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Fairgoforall
22h ago
8 9

Why should SBS be under scrutiny for propaganda when we have just seen 9 weeks of ultra-propaganda thrown at us by the media - across the board - in favor of the LNP.
As far as hypocrites go, the media takes the cake!
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ekkaman Fairgoforall
19h ago

2 3

It Is the old look over that way shit.
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DaptoDog
1d ago
10 11

So the SBS Newsroom have a problem with letting the audience make up their own minds about the Bashar interview? Why? It's the right of every interviewee to place conditions on their interview. If SBS felt that the conditions on the Bashar interview were unacceptable, they shouldn't have let it go to air at all.

Were they concerned that reporting on Syria wasn't being filtered through their favoured analysts and 'spokespeople', ie it wasn't echoing the predominant line taken by western governments and media. Or was it because he came across as more factual and coherent than these same spokespeople (especially the idiots from the US Department of State who would rather suffocate themselves than agree that the Assad regime is preferable to ISIS).

SBS did the right thing in running the interview as they did.
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glengyle DaptoDog
1d ago

6 7

Totally agree.
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sorrentina DaptoDog
20h ago

5 6

furthermore the condition that an entire interview be aired- with no editing- is actually a very reasonable and fair condition. Assad didn't require a veto over parts of the interview- or a right to demand parts be left out (as the US military routinely does with 'embedded' 'journalists'). I would like to see more of such interviews- the fact that any interview can be selectively edited before broadcast is a real problem and many people have been burned badly.

Bring on the Kim Jong-un interview SBS I look forward to seeing how that deranged evil little dictator thinks. Doesn't mean I endorse him.
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Doors2distant
1d ago
11 12

If only the Murdoch Media was as balanced and varied.
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Mygasheater Doors2distant
23h ago

7 8

The Murdoch Media is balanced. It has a chip on each shoulder.
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mharrop
1d ago
4 5

"Hanson’s spokesman, James Ashby,"

Is that the Ashby of "Ashbygate"???
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TonyDun mharrop
1d ago

3 4

yep
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EvilCommieDictator mharrop
24h ago

4 5

Yup, and as always, the media somehow have nothing to say on that matter.

Gift horses feet in mouths I guess
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Truthsandlies
1d ago
9 10

Quote by Naom Chomsky, Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.
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randomguydeaustralie
1d ago
11 12

I scoured this poorly written piece in a vain attempt to discover who has has placed SBS under scrutiny. All I could glean was that some unspecified SBS staff were of the opinion that too many restrictions were placed on the interview. That just sounds like tea room gossip to me. On further reading it emerged that the entire interview is to be broadcast in full. I would suggest that many public officials, and indeed members of the Royal family, place restrictions on interviewers. Either you agree to them or you don't get the interview. Tough questions were permitted, but not rudeness or interruption, which seems entirely reasonable to me. This is a non story
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Graeme Taylor randomguydeaustralie
1d ago

7 8

what it does show however, is the total bias in reporting regarding this latest attempt at regime change. Overthrowing popular leaders, and using Wahhabi fundamentalists to do so, worked a treat in Libya, continues to destroy Iraq, and this latest attempt in Syria has gone on largely with a one sided coverage of the baddie baddie leaders that have to go.
It was all made public in 2002, when Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, North Korea and Cuba were targeted under the moniker of "axis of evil".
Naughty SBS for not sticking to the script.
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randomguydeaustralie Graeme Taylor
24h ago

7 8

All excellent points. I saw footage the other night of an English guy whose son died in the 'war on terror' being interviewed in the aftermath of the Chilcott report. He said that he has reluctantly come around to the point of view that his son died for nothing. How heartbreaking
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CaptainHaymaker
1d ago
1 2

Pauline Hanson's facebook page is entitled "Please explain"? At least she appears to have some sense of humour.
(please tell me that she is being self-referential, and not just angry, in using the reference)
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AndyAjna
1d ago
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paulwalter
1d ago
2 3

Gee, I wish could comment on reading it, but not now or I'd say some thing I'd regret later.
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Ertimus
1d ago
21 22

ABC Lateline had a war criminal on their show last night , are they under scrutiny too???
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neillwa
1d ago
4 5

Its journalism when you speak to both sides of the conflict.
Propaganda when you just take one side. Ask the Guardian about this and their one sided reporting of their "moderate" Islamist friends.
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Petunia Winegum neillwa
23h ago

6 7

"Ask the Guardian about this and their one sided reporting of their "moderate" Islamist friends."

What is wrong with their reporting, not enough blind hatred and small-minded bigotry for your liking?
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neillwa Petunia Winegum
15h ago

2 3

What is wrong with their reporting? I guess you don't follow the news. When has the guardian interviewed people fighting for the Syrian government? None at All. And how many articles from 'moderate' rebels? Dozens.
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Jeff1000
2d ago
10 11

Um...surely agreeing to air the entire interview, without editing any questions or answers or splicing in pauses or anything, is the best way to PREVENT propaganda?
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Fairgoforall Jeff1000
22h ago

2 3

opposed to say ...... Turnbull!
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yoghurt2
2d ago
10 11

Journalism or propaganda? SBS under scrutiny over its waltz with Bashar

Well, I'd say that second sentence is positively crawling with propaganda. Here's how:

"under scrutiny" = implies SBS is at fault
"waltz with Bashar" = implies supping with the Devil

Then again, the US have already notched up hits on Mubarak, Saddam Hussein and Gadhafi, and the trifecta is never as good as the quadrafecta which they would have got with their "surgical strike" on Damascus that the Pentagon was panting for, had it not emerged that the US was planning to substitute Assad with Islamic State.
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yoghurt2
2d ago
4 5

Still doubling down the chips on the 'Free Syrian Army' huh, Guardian?
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slorter
2d ago
16 17

Mainstream media peddle a great deal of propaganda on Syria when it suits them! The US has undermined and overthrown democratic governments in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Brazil (1964), Congo (1965), Chile (1973), Turkey (1980), Nicaragua (1981-90), Haiti (2004), and the occupied Palestinian territories (2007), and it is trying to do the same in Venezuela. Why? Because the democratic choice of the people did not result in a compliant government, subservient to the West and multinational corporations. It’s also hard to imagine that Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies, Israel and Turkey care about democracy and human rights.
If we add in the US interventions in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria the costs mount to more trillions of dollars and more thousands of American lives, to say nothing of the more than one million deaths among the local populations. In all these cases, we left behind crippled and failed states, with al-Qaeda and its successors (Daesh, AKA ISIS, AKA the takfiri movement) filling the vacuum. It's a pity the mainstream don't investigate considerably more!
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JamesRHarding slorter
1d ago

17 18

You left out Australia in 1975.
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LaundriNProphets
2d ago
11 12

When does journalism become propaganda?

oh Guardian Australia, biting my tongue so hard right now
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Carstendog LaundriNProphets
2d ago

1 2

You are right, the Guardian so reflects the ALP/greens agenda, it is not funny
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pDcult Carstendog
2d ago
10 11

Thank you guardian for keeping us infirmed.
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LaundriNProphets Carstendog
2d ago
3 4

haha Carsten.

Which electorate are you posting from this day?
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Carstendog pDcult
24h ago
0 1

You should stop reading the Guardian if it is keeping you infirmed
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Petunia Winegum Carstendog
23h ago
2 3

"the Guardian so reflects the ALP/greens agenda, it is not funny"

Yeah, why can't they be more objective and impartial like Limited News are?

Thanks for this Olaf. Shows how unavoidable corruption is with commercial journalism. It is the amateur journalists here - the comment-writers - who make the important contributions. Years ago even the Age carried long contributions in the form of letters to the editor. And at the beginning of commercial journalism, writers were drawn from among all kinds of educated amateurs and professionals in their own field; there was no special education for journalists. Also, papers depended on local circulation, not advertising, thus had to be responsive to their readers.

So-called 'independent sites' - you know the ones - that are promoted by the Wheeler Center in company with the Grattan Inst etc., or the mainstream press themselves and carry the same range of property advertising etc and only report on the same subjects as the mainstream - are not independent.

In fact, that is why candobetter.net exists - to promote amateur journalism - i.e. writing that is not modified by commercial expectations. What other sites exist like candobetter.net?