Niall Ferguson, in Newsweek
A “Syria expert” who worked for a charity associated with the brutal dictator of Syria. Bashar al-Assad and his wife have reportedly used American and British PR firms in their efforts to make us like them, up until Assad began his brutal crackdown that’s claimed thousands upon thousands of lives.
A new documentary that follows a team of video activists in Homs, Syria reveals they embellished footage to make it appear more dramatic—in this case setting fire to a tire in an alley to create a column of smoke in the background (skip to 8:05). While nobody is debating the extent of the crackdown in the country, episodes like this surely give the Assad regime something to point to when they claim the resistance is fraudulent, no doubt.
So why’d they do it?
The activist tells us by email: “I set the tire on fire because there was a violent shelling on Baba Amr district and we couldn’t reach it. We are being killed with cold blood by the occupying Assad regime. This is the idea that came to my mind to show the world about the shelling as the sky of Homs was covered with smoke.”
“They are desperate to get the word out,” the producer of the documentary later said. “But they don’t need to embellish. It’s all around.”
Maras, 21, awoke yesterday morning at 6:00 a.m. to the sound of bombs falling on his neighborhood.
In his world, the Bab Amro neighborhood of Homs in central Syria, this was not the part of his day that shocked him most. This was how it had been for the past six days, he said, bursts of gunfire and shelling booming through the streets every half hour or so in the night, then picking up into a steady stream around dawn that lasted through the day. He ran out into the street, trying to reach the source to drag out the wounded, but was turned back by the strength of the gunfire, raining down from roofs outside the neighborhood. Later in the day, he went to help evacuate families from buildings in the hardest-hit sections of Bab Amro. This was the scene he couldn’t get out of his head—not of the children who cried as they left those buildings, which was normal, but of the ones who had stopped crying, too stunned to make any sound at all.
And yet, the bombs continue to fall.
We profile the profiles of Syrian first lady Asma-al-Assad, one of which was a very embarrassing piece from Vogue that was published mere days before the crackdown—and was quickly scrubbed from the web. Except not really. Here’s a fun line from that profile, as posted on a random fan site of Bashar al-Assad.
Syria is known as the safest country in the Middle East, possibly because, as the State Department’s Web site says, “the Syrian government conducts intense physical and electronic surveillance of both Syrian citizens and foreign visitors.”
See! Syria’s totally safe you guys because, due to all the monitoring of its citizens, the government knows when danger lurks! Thanks, Skynet.
A video profile of the french journalist Gilles Jacquier, who was killed today while covering a pro-government rally in Syria. Jacqueir was one of many journalists in a pack being led by government representatives, and they were allegedly interviewing people when mortar shells began to fall around them. The majority ran into a nearby house. Jacquier didn’t make it. This video is in French, so we don’t know what they’re saying. If anyone speaks French, feel free to reblog with a quick one-line translation so we can get to know a bit more about him.
This is the camera Syrian citizen journalist Basil al-Sayed, 24, used to capture security forces firing on protesters. He was shot in the head and died yesterday in Homs. This is the last thing he filmed.
That’s the Syrian embassy in Washington responding to charges against a Virginia man accused of snooping on Syrian-Americans who spoke out against President Assad. The U.S. is calling the man “an unregistered agent of the Syrian government.” You’ll find that denial on Eli Lake’s piece on the alleged spy.
J.J. HARDER, spokesman for the American Embassy in Damascus, on the violent crackdown against activists by Syrian government forces, which has left at least 70 protesters dead. Read it at the New York Times.