Monday, May 27, 2024
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Monday, May 27, 2024

Boomerang | Assad has plenty of time to lie and misinform

The United States Capitol Building, Washington, DC; Credit: DRNADIG

In the tumultuous landscape of the Syrian conflict, one figure stands out for his mastery of misinformation and manipulation: Bashar Assad. As the leader of a regime entrenched in brutality and authoritarianism, Assad has employed a range of tactics to maintain power, including the propagation of lies, the control of state media, and the promotion of conspiracy theories. 

Assad has denounced those who sought refuge from his deadly brutality in other countries as terrorists

For decades we have watched Assad confidently feed any media source that would entertain him with a plethora of lies and propaganda about Syrians engaged in the fight for freedom, dignity, and democracy in their homeland. Assad has denounced those who sought refuge from his deadly brutality in other countries as terrorists and stripped them of their Syrian citizenship while at the same time claiming that they are welcome to come home. 

But recently it seems that the efforts of a group of Syrian advocates in the US have managed to get under his skin, causing him to veer away from his normal propaganda-filled rhetoric. 

Assad and his regime have relied heavily on lies to discredit the dissenting voices and justify their crimes against humanity

Last Saturday, Assad addressed members of his Ba’ath Party in Damascus and for the first time explicitly mentioned his dismay at the work of the Syrian American community advocating for justice for the Syrian people. In contrast to his dismay, the Syrian American advocates he attempted to intimidate with his insults (he referred to them as herds of bulls) were delighted by his recognition of their efforts and viewed his response as the best form of encouragement to keep working hard to achieve their goals.

From the early days of the Syrian uprising, Assad and his regime have relied heavily on lies to discredit the dissenting voices and justify their crimes against humanity. Whether denying the existence of peaceful protests or falsely accusing opposition groups of terrorism, Assad has consistently manipulated facts to portray himself as a bulwark against chaos and extremism. This weaponization of lies has not only misled the Syrian people but has also sown confusion and division within the international community.

Assad and his supporters have embraced conspiracy theories as a means of deflecting blame and undermining critics

Central to Assad’s propaganda machine is the control of state media which serves as a mouthpiece for his regime’s narrative. Television channels, newspapers, and online platforms are used to disseminate pro-Assad propaganda while demonizing opposition forces and foreign governments. Dissenting voices and independent journalists have been effectively silenced through intimidation, imprisonment, or worse. Through his use of censorship, Assad sought to control the flow of information and shape public perception in his favor.

In addition to spreading falsehoods, Assad and his supporters have embraced conspiracy theories as a means of deflecting blame and undermining critics. Whether alleging foreign conspiracies to destabilize Syria or casting doubt on the veracity of chemical weapons attacks, Assad has cultivated a climate of paranoia and distrust. By peddling conspiracy theories, Assad seeks to delegitimize genuine grievances and evade accountability for his regime’s crimes against humanity.

Assad’s use of lies, media manipulation, and conspiracy theories remains a potent tool of repression and control

The consequences of Assad’s lies, media manipulation, and conspiracy theories are profound and far-reaching. They have eroded trust in institutions, deepened sectarian divisions, and fueled a cycle of violence and impunity. Moreover, they have contributed to a culture of fear and apathy, where dissent is stifled and truth is a casualty of war. In the face of such relentless propaganda, many Syrians feel disillusioned and disempowered, resigned to a future defined by repression and injustice.

As the Syrian conflict continues without any resolution in sight, Assad’s use of lies, media manipulation, and conspiracy theories remains a potent tool of repression and control. Yet, even in the face of such propaganda, there are voices of courage and truth that refuse to be silenced. It is incumbent upon the international community to support these voices, in Al Suwayda, in the liberated areas of northern Syria, in the US, and in many other countries around the world where Syrians and friends of Syrians continue to expose Assad’s deception and to stand in solidarity with the Syrian people as they continue to seek freedom, dignity, and justice.

Ruthanne Sikora
Ruthanne Sikora
Ruthanne Sikora is a full-time caregiver for her differently-abled daughter Lauren, human rights activist, Global Studies student, part-time writer and English editor.

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