On being an Assad Apologist …

I’ve been going to Syria for many years now, and I don’t like doing the politician rounds.  On my first trip I remember saying; I’m going to have to wear a paper bag over my head for the rest of my life, after having escorts with sirens and the like and god forbid meeting with Dr. Assad.  I distanced myself from those who had a set idea, or what seemed to be partisan political views.  I wanted to be a blank canvas, putting my niggling doubts at what we were being told out of my mind and watched and listened to Syrians and talked with them whenever I could.  It wasn’t always easy as schedules were full with all sorts of meetings.  But if we were held up on the road I’d have my head out the window asking; English?

At the University of Damascus we visited the Faculty of Architecture and I had more opportunity to speak with students.  We were told of the mortar attack on their faculty and the students who died. More than 20 students were killed by ‘moderate rebels’ firing indiscriminately on their campus.  We visited the bronze monument to the young martyrs, it was a a simple but poignant stack of books. Along the road leaving the University of Damascus I could literally smell home, the avenue was lined with eucalypts bursting in the red gum blossoms of the West.  The smell of home gave me pause to reflect on how this amount of violence, directed at the young, would tear at our hearts and yet we know little of Syrian’s stories and mostly care not to look for them.  We are blinded by the narrative that is selective about what is deemed for our eyes, carefully designed to tug at moral outrage, yet keep us passive against a critical thought.  We become reactive and emotive, this is not by accident. When the West decides on a new war, the first stop is to a PR firm whose job it is to sell it to us.

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I was stopped in Umayyad Mosque by two young women, they wanted their photo with me because I was a foreigner, they asked me to please tell the truth of Syria when I got home.  A simple request that I have been asked in one form or another, by many Syrians from all walks of life.  Not a big ask, or it shouldn’t be.  It is mind boggling to me that any number of paid think tank talking heads, ‘journalists’, politicians, analysts and NGOs who never set foot in Syria, words are taken at face value but those doing the hard yards on the ground are dismissed and demonised. Once local knowledge, being on the ground and returning to check, double check and learn more was a good thing, now its value is dismissed out of hand.  The most dangerous people in the world are the ones for which money means very little, these people are the true truth seekers and can’t be bought.  No amount of money will convince me to ’embroider’ on the truth, I have no sacred cows, I answer to no one and I’m too old to care what others’ think.

In a TV station a young man was charged with me, keeping me happy with tea, coffee, juice, water and conversation.  He told me before the crisis it was safe to sleep in the street in Syria, now it was not safe to sleep in one’s home.  He told me he was scared, but more scared to leave ‘mother Syria’ for fear he’d never return.  He mused on the idea that Westerners’ don’t think it could happen in their countries, we didn’t think this could happen in Syria, he said softly.  The world of Syrians has been turned upside down relative to our moral compasses, usurped and manipulated in the ‘free world’.  Free speech advocates sign documents to silence, truth gurus completely out of step with actual facts, actors and musicians openly cheerleading for takfiris and convincing a gullible public to spend their hard earned money on donations to al Qaeda via the White Helmets.  People are happily funding terrorism, the thing that scares them the most.

People often accused al Jazeera of lying about Syria.  There were comments to the effect that al Jazeera were doing more than misreporting and were far more hands on than that.  Actor/activist Mohamed Rafea, was tortured and killed for his outspokenness regarding the machinations of those interfering in his country and al Jazeera’s role in the bloodletting.  The use of radio in Rwanda came to mind; ‘cut the tall trees’.  There was also a general distrust of the BBC, not without good reason.  If you are truly seeking to plough through the propaganda, you need to know what it looks like, understand competing narratives and listen to the few, the rare few who travel Syria with no other notion than disseminating facts.  We have no agenda other than truth and a willingness to put ourselves in harms way to bring this madness to an end in the best way each of us can muster. There’s no training, we dive in and somehow find our niche.  Happily, more young people are seeking the truth of Syria, simply because they are inquisitive young humans with brave hearts and a nose that can smell a rat.

In 2014, I was in Syria again, this time my eldest son came with me.  I had more opportunity to speak with people that trip, from IDPs in Latakia to Palestinians in Yamouk.  People up and down the country supported their President and loved their army.  Given every family in Syria would have a member in the military, why wouldn’t they?  That is not to say everyone agrees with everything about their government, peoples across the world have gripes with their governments but that in no way means all these people wish to destroy the apparatus of their State or wish to overthrow their President.  To believe otherwise gives lie to any credibility you may think you have.  I was told that the Syrian army was old, past it, so to speak, I was dumbfounded, virtually speechless, where do people get these ideas, people many believe know a thing or two?  Certainly not on the ground in Syria. There are so many beautiful young men fighting for their nation’s survival.  There are also so many beautiful young women, equally fighting for their survival, and their rights as autonomous beings.

I’ve travelled Syria twice since then.  What changes is how united the people are, that gets stronger each visit.  I do not want to speak for the Syrian people inside Syria, but their voices are ignored, they are shouted down by white saviours and many Syrians living outside Syria with their own agendas. We need to let their voices be heard through us, until such time that the propaganda war is won and their voices are heard.  Western socialists are relied upon to uphold the narrative of the ‘colour revolutions’, their tunnel vision lends itself to believing any revolution is a good revolution.  Not all revolutions are workers revolutions or left revolutions or greater good revolutions.  Most are ugly and violent, ill conceived and short sighted.  Syria is not suffering from revolution, it is suffering from violent mercenaries, State and non State players, gangsters, murderers and thieves, working with and against each other to gain control and divvy up the spoils of Syria and ultimately Balkanise her.

If standing against imperialism, supporting Syria’s sovereignty, international law and acknowledging the will of the Syrian people in their choice of President makes me an Assad apologist, I stand guilty as charged.



On behalf of the people of the Syrian Arab Republic for her work on our behalf in our darkest hours. Your name and the example you have set will be eternally and gratefully enshrined in our memories.

  1. I remember when I saw the Amnesty International FaceBook posts back when I still subscribed to them in a time which was not so long ago, but feels like a lifetime. Their coverage of the attack on the Architecture students made no mention whatsoever as to who had perpetrated it, all the profile of the refugee Architecture student in the West mentioned was he was “escaping the fighting”. Same with the gay man whose friend was thrown from the top of a building.

    Given irrational media claims of Syrian and Russian bombing massacres of civilians and the now discredited Gay Girl of Damascus-style disinfo prevalent, the first assumption was that these outrages were carried out by the usual governmental suspects. I don’t think I was the only one. Is it just me, or does this not play into the hands of those who would have us “hate the victims and love the oppressor” in the words of Malcolm X? Cui Bono? The whole thing sickens me.

  2. Australia`s MSM has taken the CNN/FOX/BBC line on all this,but when I saw Independent Australia put out similar tripe by John Passant and Martin Hirst it disgusted me,then reminding me to seek better company

    • Seems Independent Australia should stick to domestic politics and leave geo-politics to the grown-ups 🙂 I did offer Dave a chance for an interview, he declined.

      • I can`t understand why IA can critically look a Israel & support received from the US
        They also publish lots of Pilgers work,they publish pro Assange pieces,yet have Iraq/Libya & Syria so wrong
        I tried very hard over a long time but go nowhere
        Thanks for your enlightenment in exposing the horror of these false flag ops/invasions

  3. Reblogged this on Worldtruth and commented:
    Most excellent and worthy article, one of the best among other very good reporting like that of Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett. An evocative and heartfelt narrative and certainly a keeper.

    • Wow, that is high praise indeed. I’m friends with both these wonderful women. Thank you.

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