SIBCI's Syria

Boys walk along a damaged street filled with debris in Deir al-ZorA popular, patriotic government, supported by a near unanimity of the international community, besieged on all sides by blood thirsty terrorists, facing imperial aggression. A blameless government scrambling to protect its people from islamist aggression, its soldiers slaughtered without provocation, its streets car-bombed, its people gassed by terrorist forces now backed by the greatest imperial army the world has ever known.

This is the Syrian conflict as you’d know it if, like millions of Venezuelans, your only source of information about it was Venezuelan state media.

SIBCI’s coverage of the Syrian conflict amounts to journalistic malpractice on a grand scale: aggressively partisan, unabashedly propagandistic, and meticulously scrubbed of any information that could imaginably reflect badly on the Assad regime.

The Syrian Air Force does not target civilian areas for bombing. Syrian militias do not terrorize and massacre dissident neighbourhoods. Two million Syrian refugees have not fled to neighbouring countries to escape regime violence. As far as people who rely on SIBCI know, these things just never happened.

And, needless to say, it’s the terrorists who indiscriminately murder people using poison gas.

What I find most disturbing is the state media conglomerate’s flat refusal to cover even major elements of the story “straight”. This piece, for instance, is how SIBCI’s audience first found out the Ghouta poison gas attack really took place. It segues directly from an MSF report confirming the story to this jewel:

No es la primera vez que los grupos terroristas en Siria utilizan armas químicas en contra de las fuerzas de seguridad del país árabe, pues pretenden presentar al Gobierno de Damasco como autor de tales ataques químicos, adecuando así el camino al Occidente encabezado por Washington para una posible intervención en el país árabe.

No obstante, tales esfuerzos han fracasado, pues el Ejército sirio ha conseguido numerosas pruebas que revelan la autoría de los terroristas en el supuesto asalto.

Take a moment to notice what’s happening in that passage. This isn’t about “raising questions” over the allegations of Assad’s responsibility. They’re not out to “teach the controversy”, as it were. What they’re doing is reporting Assad propaganda as plain fact.

The Syria on show on Canal 8 is a place where opposition is always presumed treacherous and no step taken to repress it is ever excessive. Where the regime’s line is acritically assumed to be true, and opposing viewpoints are presented only in the most skeletal terms – if at all – before being vehemently rejected. (Notice how, in the piece excerpted above, claims of regime responsibility are never actually presented before they’re contradicted.)

The Syrian Civil War makes for an arresting case study of the miseries of Communicational Hegemony. Because, it just so happens, this virulent delegitimation of dissent is a hallmarks of SIBCI’s approach to Maduro’s internal opponents, as well.

It’s in this context of this mendacious, manipulative, heavily redacted rendering of the Syrian tragedy that Nicolás Maduro’s calls for “peace, peace, peace!!!” in Syria need to be seen.

The Syria we find on Venezuelan state media – the only news media, let’s not forget, that millions of Venezuelans have reasonably easy access to these days – is one where the only chance of peace is to empower the Assad regime to smash the rebels out of existence. And that, conveniently enough, turns out to be the Venezuelan government’s policy.

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