Thursday, August 18, 2016

Shame on CNN


The boy in the picture, Omran Daqneesh, was the victim of an airstrike. The only powers with airplanes in the Syrian conflict are the Assad regime, Russia and the Western Anti-IS coalition. Since, the Western coalition does not conduct air strikes in the area where Omran was hurt we can safely assume that the responsibility here lies with Assad and Russia, and Iran by implication, since they are all members of the same coalition targeting that part of Aleppo from land and air. However, anyone watching CNN coverage of this tragic development would end up thinking that ISIS is the main culprit here and that Russia is the party trying to stop the violence. The development did not happen as part of the war on ISIS, but as part of Assad-Russia-Iran war on rebels and the civilian communities sympathetic with their cause. The facts in this regard are well-established, and CNN’s unwillingness to reflect that clearly in their coverage is shameful. The truth is not something at which you shyly hint as though it were a crime; it’s something that you have to highlight all the time so that your audience becomes aware of it, especially the causal viewer.


This is another segment on Omran Daqneesh by CNN, and still no hint of Russia’s and Assad’s culpability. It’s like doing a story segment on Kim Phuc, the crying naked Vietnamese girl from that iconic Vietnam War photograph, while avoiding any mention of America’s role in her fate. The interview that followed the above segment was with the spokesman for the Western anti-ISIS coalition and focused on Russia’s lack of credibility in regard to fighting ISIS, but not its commission of war crimes such as the one produced this new viral image.

This is clearly an editorial policy and not some isolated incident, and it’s misleading. CNN may not be in a position to tell with certainty whether the planes in the incident involved belonged to the Syrian regime or the Russian government, but, since the two sides are working together, they represent the same side and should be named as such. Moreover, Omran was not caught in the crossfire, as the commentator suggested, he was hurt as part of the Assad-Putin policy of targeting civilian infrastructure in Aleppo and other rebel-held territories.    

We should also be mindful of the involvement of foreign Shia militias funded by Iran and of the fact that Iran has now opened some of its basses to allow Russia to conduct strikes in Syria from there. This, in fact, could have been one of those strikes.


White Hairs & Tears

“Who’s behind it [the air strike], we do not know.” But we do, and from the moment it happened. And, yes, it matters. The truth that Russia, Iran the Assad regime are the worst human rights offenders in Syria matters. Because these are the facts, and for journalism this is what really matters. If they embarrass our leaders, that’s their problem. If they call for action, then we should act. Spare us your tears, they mean nothing, if you’re not willing to report the facts.

Journalists who know how to cry but not how to report facts, and leaders who acknowledge their white hairs but not their red lines. What next?

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