The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

The West is horrified by children's slaughter now. Soon we'll forget | Robert Fisk

Bashar al-Assad will get away with it. He got away with Deraa. He got away with Homs. And he’ll get away with Houla. So will the armed opposition to the regime, along with al-Qa’ida and any other outfits joining in Syria’s tragedy. Yes, this may be the critical moment, the “tipping point” of horror, when Baathist collapse becomes inevitable rather than probable. And dear Mr Hague may be “absolutely” appalled. The UN, too. We all are.

But the Middle East is littered with a hundred Houlas, their dead children piled among the statistics, with knives and ropes as well as guns among the murder weapons. And what if Assad’s soldiers let their Alawite militia do their dirty work? Didn’t the Algerian FLN regime use “home guard” units to murder its opponents in the 1990s? Didn’t Gaddafi have his loyalist militias last year, and Mubarak his jailbird drugged-up ex-cops, the baltagi, to bash opponents of his regime? Didn’t Israel use its Lebanese Phalangist proxies to intimidate and kill its opponents in Lebanon? Wasn’t this, too, “rule by murder”? And come to think of it, wasn’t it Bashar al-Assad’s uncle Rifaat’s Special Forces who massacred the insurgents of Hama in 1982 – speak this not too loudly, for Rifaat lives now between Paris and London – and so who thinks Bashar can’t get away with Houla? The Algerian parallel is a frightening one. The FLN’s corrupt leadership wanted a “democracy”, even held elections. But once it was clear that the Islamist opposition – the luckless Islamic Salvation Front – would win, the government declared war on the “terrorists” trying to destroy Algeria. Villages were besieged, towns were shelled – all in the name of fighting “terror” – until the opposition took to slaughtering civilians around Blida, thousands of them, babies with their throats cut, women raped. And then it turned out the Algerian army was also involved in massacres. For Houla, read Bentalha, a place we have all forgotten; as we will forget Houla.

And we Westerners, we huffed and puffed, and called upon both sides in Algeria to exercise “restraint”, but wanted stability in France’s former colony – and let’s not forget that Syria is a former French “mandate” territory – and were very worried about al-Qa’ida-style insurgents taking over Algeria and, in the end, the US supported the Algerian military just as the Russians are supporting Syria’s military today. And the FLN got away with it, after 200,000 dead – compared to the mere 10,000 killed so far in Syria’s war.

And it’s worth remembering that, faced with their 1990s insurrection, the Algerians cast around desperately for countries from which they could take advice. They chose Hafez al-Assad’s Syria and sent a military delegation to Damascus to learn how the regime destroyed Hama in 1982. Now the Americans – who six months ago were characteristically casting Bashar as a “dead man walking” – prefer a Yemen-type ending to the Syrian war, as if Yemen’s crisis wasn’t bloody enough. But replacing Assad with a thug from the same patch (the Sanaa “solution”) is not what the Syrians will settle for.

Yes, it’s a civil war. And yes, Houla may be the turning point. And yes, now the UN are witnesses. But the Baath party has roots that go deeper than blood – ask any Lebanese – and we in the West will soon forget Houla when another YouTube image of death flicks on to our screens from the Syrian countryside. Or from Yemen. Or from the next revolution.

futurejournalismproject:

BBC Syria Coverage Uses Wrong Photo from Wrong Country and Wrong Year
The BBC published the photo above yesterday to illustrate the massacres taking place in Houla, Syria.
Problem is, the photo was taken by Marco di Lauro south of Baghdad in 2003.
Via the Telegraph:

Mr di Lauro, who works for Getty Images picture agency and has been published by newspapers across the US and Europe, said: “I went home at 3am and I opened the BBC page which had a front page story about what happened in Syria and I almost felt off from my chair.
“One of my pictures from Iraq was used by the BBC web site as a front page illustration claiming that those were the bodies of yesterday’s massacre in Syria and that the picture was sent by an activist.
“Instead the picture was taken by me and it’s on my web site, on the feature section regarding a story I did In Iraq during the war called Iraq, the aftermath of Saddam. “What I am really astonished by is that a news organization like the BBC doesn’t check the sources and it’s willing to publish any picture sent it by anyone: activist, citizen journalist or whatever. That’s all.”
He added he was less concerned about an apology or the use of image without consent, adding: “What is amazing it’s that a news organization has a picture proving a massacre that happened yesterday in Syria and instead it’s a picture that was taken in 2003 of a totally different massacre.”

FJP Pro Tip: a reverse image search could have flagged this photo in seconds. Where to do it? We use Google Image Search (instead of typing a search term in the text box select the camera icon which allows you to either enter the URL of an image or upload one) and Tineye (the process is the same).
Image: An Iraqi girl jumps over the body bags containing skeletons found in the desert south of Baghdad. Marco di Lauro, 2003.

futurejournalismproject:

BBC Syria Coverage Uses Wrong Photo from Wrong Country and Wrong Year

The BBC published the photo above yesterday to illustrate the massacres taking place in Houla, Syria.

Problem is, the photo was taken by Marco di Lauro south of Baghdad in 2003.

Via the Telegraph:

Mr di Lauro, who works for Getty Images picture agency and has been published by newspapers across the US and Europe, said: “I went home at 3am and I opened the BBC page which had a front page story about what happened in Syria and I almost felt off from my chair.

“One of my pictures from Iraq was used by the BBC web site as a front page illustration claiming that those were the bodies of yesterday’s massacre in Syria and that the picture was sent by an activist.

“Instead the picture was taken by me and it’s on my web site, on the feature section regarding a story I did In Iraq during the war called Iraq, the aftermath of Saddam. “What I am really astonished by is that a news organization like the BBC doesn’t check the sources and it’s willing to publish any picture sent it by anyone: activist, citizen journalist or whatever. That’s all.”

He added he was less concerned about an apology or the use of image without consent, adding: “What is amazing it’s that a news organization has a picture proving a massacre that happened yesterday in Syria and instead it’s a picture that was taken in 2003 of a totally different massacre.”

FJP Pro Tip: a reverse image search could have flagged this photo in seconds. Where to do it? We use Google Image Search (instead of typing a search term in the text box select the camera icon which allows you to either enter the URL of an image or upload one) and Tineye (the process is the same).

Image: An Iraqi girl jumps over the body bags containing skeletons found in the desert south of Baghdad. Marco di Lauro, 2003.

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