Syria and the battle of narratives

Revolution or civil war? The battle of narratives in Syria” – a must-read article by Nadim Shehadi, published in Open Democracy.

It argues that the Syrian regime is winning the battle of narratives because people in the West – the media and other opinion formers – are trapped in the narrative of the Iraq war, correctly described by Brian Whitaker as “a scandal of gigantic proportions, largely engineered by a bunch of American neoconservatives“.

According to Shehadi,

The international policy debate and media coverage on Syria is mainly driven by the trauma of the experiences of Iraq, Afghanistan and that of the ‘war on terror’ which the pro-regime talking points constantly refer to in order to reinforce the view that it is indispensable, irreplaceable and that beyond it is chaos of unimaginable proportions.

The international media and many policy circles seem to fall for much of the regime’s tricks, whereas the Syrians who have lived with these tricks for generations have reached a stage where they are immune to them.

Another important element of support for the regime is an extension of the opposition to the war in Iraq. Whether in policy circles, think tanks or in the media; those opposed to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, tended to favour engagement with the Assad regime. They projected the policy of engagement and assistance with reform as an alternative to that of intervention and regime change.

Both articles – Nadim’s and Whitaker’s – are highly recommended, if only as a first step towards straightening some of the fuddled thinking about Syria.

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