In February of 2016, while corporate news media eagerly anticipated the involvement of allegedly “moderate” Syrian opposition groups in peace talks, Mnar Muhawesh of Mint Press News reported that such coverage made “little mention of who these groups really are, who’s behind them, and their agenda beyond ‘get rid of Assad.’” In fact, Muhawesh reported, the Syrian High Negotiations Committee, which aimed to unite thousands of opposition fighters, actually included “armed jihadists vying for power and who have been acting as proxies to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar since 2011 to overthrow the Syrian government.” Extreme Islamists included as part of the Committee—including, for example, Jaysh al-Islam, Sunni rebels known for mass executions, kidnapping, pillaging, and openly pledging to purge Syria of anyone not in line with their ideology—had demonstrated little concern for the will of the Syrian people. The opposition goals have been shaped to protect the interest of its foreign backers and jihadist fighters. Muhawesh recognized that peace talks were desperately needed, but expressed concern that compromise would mean a “sponsored apocalyptic vision for Syria.”
By contrast with the Mint Press News report, corporate media, including reports in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, have framed the story by describing the opposition as “moderates” with “some hard-line Islamists.” These reports do not address the role of foreign support in shaping the agenda of the Syrian High Negotiation Committee. Overall, the corporate media report on the Syrian crisis with a pro-Syrian opposition agenda. That said, one could argue that the Mint Press News article reflects bias against Western and Sunni Islamist influences.
Source: Mnar Muhawesh, “The Syrian Opposition’s NATO-Sponsored Apocalyptic Vision For Syria,” Mint Press News, February 15, 2016, http://www.mintpressnews.com/213702-2/213702/.
Student Researcher: Kevin McDaniel (Citrus College)
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (Citrus College)