Radio Sputnik’s Eugene Puryear, of the By Any Means Necessary program has spoken with American journalist Rania Khalek, who recently returned from the war-torn nation, to give an accurate picture of events as they have transpired, without the spin.
Who are the rebels in Aleppo?
In mainstream Western media the Syrian civil war is routinely and mistakenly split into just two sides: the Syrian government and ‘the rebels,’ the latter a wholly ambiguous phrase that does not accurately define the many different groups acting in the region. This portrayal is "completely decontextualized," Khalek told By Any Means Necessary. "There are so many groups you can’t keep up with it."
In reality, however, the strongest anti-Assad forces are two terrorist organizations closely related to al Qaeda: al Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sham. Both groups operate “in a similar fashion as al Qaeda and ISIS,” Khalek said. The two armed groups are "very tyrannical," regularly kidnapping, torturing, and executing dissidents "for simply criticizing them on social media."
"So that’s what we’re talking about when we hear about ‘rebels’ in these places," Khalek added.
Selective Reporting, Propaganda and ‘Reckless’ Support of Jihadists
"When you hear in all of these mainstream publications that ‘activists in Aleppo say…’ it’s really manipulative in many ways," Khalek said, pointing to the use of the carefully-selective reporting around the Battle of Aleppo. "You can’t be an activist in a place controlled by al Nusra," or other jihadists, she added, as these groups do not permit free speech, but the reports submitted by Western-sponsored activists are rarely questioned.
Mainstream-media supported activists are "entirely" funded by groups like USAID, the UK Foreign Office and various Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to Khalek. There is a "network" of self-described "media activists" that have popped up in rebel-held areas who are feeding the current Western mainstream-news narrative, a narrative that uncoincidentally regularly serves US geopolitical interests. The net result is that the West is bombarded almost exclusively with American- and British-funded propaganda, "which the West then believes," Khalek noted. "It’s like a great circle.
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) December 8, 2016
Follow the money and the trail leads down a dark, if unsurprising, tunnel. In their continuing attempts to overthrow the legitimately-elected government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the US and UK have “empowered, funded, and armed” jihadist groups. When funding for a particular group runs dry, which is starting to happen now that the Syrian government has secured a crucial victory in Aleppo, "the jihadists we empowered in Syria are going to attack Western countries," she said.
"Syria has become an issue that… Reporting on it accurately leads to so many smears, so many attacks. For some people, it’s probably not even worth it," she said, adding that the attacks come from many sources: think tanks, the Gulf media, as well as the US and UK mainstream-news echo chamber. By criticizing any type of action by the US or the UK in the area "you’re opening yourself to hell. You get attacked relentlessly," Khalek said.
Khalek is one of the few journalists who has shed light on selective reporting in Syria by the West.