Ahrar al-Sham militants making a public statement in Syria.
On Wednesday [October 19], the Guardian released an article titled “U.S. and U.K. reject Russian offer of ‘pause’ in airstrikes on Syria.” Aside from the fact it’s riddled with the outlet’s usual pro-U.S.-U.K. and anti-Russian propaganda, the article sank to the lowest of possible lows in an attempt to present the Russian military as an aggressor in Aleppo in which there are allegedly no terrorist groups — only moderate fighting forces.
How? By citing the leader of a terrorist group.
Al-Farouk Abu Bakr, an Aleppo commander in the “powerful Islamist group” Ahrar al-Sham said, speaking from Aleppo:
“‘When we took up arms at the start of the revolution to defend our abandoned people we promised God that we would not lay them down until the downfall of this criminal regime,’ he said, referring to President Bashar al-Assad’s government.”
“There are no terrorists in Aleppo.” [emphasis added]
There are many issues with the Guardian’s publication of this statement. First, in the Guardian’s latest apparent attempt to see how gullible its readers are, the outlet neglects to explain the ideological leanings of Ahrar al-Sham (which is not surprising when you analyze it). Ahrar al-Sham is heavily affiliated with Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official Syrian branch) and has conducted numerous operations together with the al-Qaeda affiliate. The group also used to work with ISIS until January 2014 and only parted ways after ISIS killed one of their members — not because the groups shared any noticeable differing ideologies.
The group has at least 20,000 members, and its stated goal is to establish a Sunni Islamic state within Syria (what would happen to all of the sects of Syrian society?). In 2013, Human Rights Watch reported they massacred 190 civilians and seized over 200 civilians simply because the villagers were from an Alawite-dominated part of Latakia.
If they are not a terrorist group, then what are they?
Further, one cannot ignore that these media outlets are so quick to interview or quote fanatical jihadists yet won’t even lend the same respect to Russian, Iranian, or Syrian military officials. The aforementioned are, after all, fighting against the same fanatical jihadists the Western powers have claimed to be fighting for decades.
The most intellectually damaging aspect of this report is that the same article prefaces the above terrorist leader’s statement with the following paragraph, effectively canceling out its own narrative:
“The Russians appear to be trying to work round both Britain and France by attempting to win the support of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar for a ceasefire that will put pressure on al-Nusra front fighters to leave Aleppo. Estimates of the number of al-Nusra fighters in the city vary between 400 and 900. In Moscow, Shoigu explained Russia is ‘asking the countries wielding influence with the [Syrian] rebels … to persuade their leaders to end fighting and leave the city.’
“Russia has improved its relations with Turkey, and neither Turkey or Saudi Arabia say they want al-Nusra to remain in Aleppo. America has also condemned the al-Nusra presence, saying despite a name change the group remains ideologically affiliated to al-Qaida.”[emphasis added]
So, there are no terrorist groups in Aleppo? But even the Americans have condemned their ‘non-existence?’ Why condemn something that isn’t there?
The Guardian has been the recipient of the British National Newspaper of the Year four times (including as recently as 2013), the Bevins Prize for investigative journalism, and the Best Newspaper category three years running between 2005-2007, among others.
But Bob Dylan just won the Nobel Prize for literature following a career of writing no literature, so maybe this really is great journalism and we are the morons for not being able to understand it.