❊ Information Warfare in the Arab Spring

The case of Liliane Khalil is part of a bigger information war taking place alongside the Arab spring.  A few days ago I read a story on Now Lebanon that was too juicy not to post here on Beirut Spring:

A UN commission linked to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced that Iran and Hezbollah are “involved in killing Syrian soldiers who refuse to shoot at protesters,” Al-Arabiya television reported Friday.

The commission said it will publish a detailed report in the coming days, Al-Arabiya also said, adding that the report contains images and testimonies of Syrian soldiers who defected from the army and are now in Turkey.

It sounded like big news from a trusted source with many details. But it didn’t quite feel right (despite my biases). I remember going to the UNHCR’s website in a bid to find out more about the story and I couldn’t find anything. Despite that, the story was relentlessly echoed on March 14 media and other regional news outlets.

Fast forward a few days:

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Monday denied media accounts that said the agency was planning to publish a report claiming Hezbollah had been involved in the killing of Syrian army defectors.

A part of me wanted to believe that report. But I did not want to be unfair, so I’m glad I didn’t end up posting it.

Should we conclude that people in Syria aren’t been killed, that the Assad regime is wearing kids gloves and the whole Syria revolution is one big media scam orchestrated by Saudi Arabia and March 14, as our semi-senile M.P. Michel Aoun said yesterday?

Of course not. Remember, there’s also a counter-information war taking place on the other side, and the reports from Syria are not just coming from Alarabiya and Almustaqbal. They’re coming from amateur TV footage and live witness accounts that are corroborated and verified by many trustworthy international news sources. In my book, Assad is still a murderer.

All I’m saying is that we should stay vigilant. Regional powers always like to piggy back on the Arab spring to promote their agendas (Remember how Iran’s Khamene’i concluded that Tahrir square was a vindication of Iran’s islamic revolution?).

I guess my conclusion is that we shouldn’t believe everything we read and hear and we should strive as much as we can to keep a critical and open minded attitude. Perhaps that could be the best legacy of the Arab spring..

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  • Mark

    If you take a moment and watch OTV, you’ll see many ads for Syriatel, Ramy Makhlouf’s company. Recently, Syriatel “sponsored” OTV for $50 mil. If you believe a Lebanese tv station needs that much money, you’ll believe anything. MTV was brought back for an investment totaling $8 million. And that’s why, my friend, you see Michel Aoun on TV barking that everything is ok in Syria.

    In Lebanese politics, nothing but money talks, on both sides of the fence.

  • http://theodorearz.blogspot.com Theodore Arz

    With regards to the UNHCR report, I think it goes to your argument to point out that following that release on Al Arabiya, the Saudi King recalled his ambassador and issued his statements on Syria.

  • Ali

    it is just sad to hear that you actually “wanted to believe” that report. if you look the issue from a political/military/ideological point of view, or from whatever point of view you can think of, you will note that it is pure suicide for Assad to hire outsiders, a la Qaddafi, whether from hezbollah or from iran to do his dirty work.
    also, this would represent a net loss for hezbollah as it goes against everything they have been preaching.

    • Mustapha

      Well to be fair, I did say that something didn’t feel quite right in the report, despite my Anti-Hezbollah bias (which I’m entitled to and I don’t find anything “sad” about it)

  • http://forabetterlebanon.wordpress.com/ Marillionlb

    Mustapha my friend, “semi senile” ? Anyone who still had an iota of doubt with regards the demented general state of mental health should now be basking in the knowledge that M.A is a raving lunatic. And those who still doubt are crazier than he is.

    • Mustapha

      In my book he gets points for intensity.. but yeah he jumped the shark a long time ago..