[Update: There is a now a gruesome video showing Syrian rebels executing prisoners.]
The media are no longer the first draft of history. They are the first layer of distortion and disinformation one has to scrape off to get to the truth.
My experience of Yugoslavia and Kosovo has taught me to avoid hasty judgements and to ignore the media. The cultural and commercial forces that shape the media optimise them for entertainment not reporting reality.
In Syria, as with Libya, it is hard to know what’s really going on and even harder to work out who to support.
The media narrative is familiar: the goodies are the rebel “freedom fighters”, the baddies are the Syrian “regime”.
Assad and his supporters – Iran and Hizbollah – are pretty loathsome. There is no doubt that they have killed tens of thousands of civilians.
But I am also disgusted by many of the rebel elements. The Free Syrian Army seem to be a decent lot, but the Islamist flooding in for Jihad are brutes.
The picture above shocked me. The execution of Prisoners of War is SS style, behaviour, really not something I expected from the rebels or can support under any circumstances.
Hala Jaber’s report in today’s Sunday Times, from which the picture above comes, is a fascinatingly (and rare) example of a media piece that reveals the far more complicated situation in Syria.
I wanted the air strike to kill the men who murdered those Syrian army POWs yet I was also pleased to ear that Hizbollah are taking casualties in the fight.
This situation is extremely dangerous.
Syria links Turkey, Israel, Lebanon and Iran. Turkey, a NATO member is shelling Syria, also a Russian ally.
My hopes lie with the Turks. They are a powerful and responsible force in the region. This situation might even reunite Israel and Turkey as allies.
If it were not for the Islamist element in the ranks of the rebels, it would be a no-brainer to support them unequivocally.
As it is, it’s an ugly fight with brutal combatants that threatens to spill over into the stands. And we all know in those melees it’s impossible to work out who to shout for.