This is a guest post by one of my few Belgian followers: @charlo_be
It provides you with an excellent view on how the Syrian war is conceived through mainstream media …
To begin with some honesty: I am a layman when it comes the conflict in Syria. I get the general gist of it, I can recall a few of the warring faction’s names and some city names (do not, however, ask me to point them out on a map).
The information that does reach me, gets to me via two twitter accounts. Pieter Van Ostaeyen and Brown Moses deliver a daily and steady stream of facts and figures, retweets and even breaking news.
I wish I could add ‘national news’ to my list of information sources, but alas, no such luck. If and when Belgian newspapers report on the Syrian situation, expect it to be not before page 12. And preferably not too big an article. And certainly not too graphic.
Oh certainly, once in a while you get the front page outcries. When the number of children killed/mutilated was too big, or when the Assad regime uses chemicals. But a day later all is well again and the matter moves past page 12 once again.
Of course, I understand. The conflict is dragging on for 2+ years now, and it’s not like anyone outside of different aid organisations is doing something. Anything.
Because most people don’t care about the conflict. I’ve heard people say that it’s not really close by. That it’s ok because “let the muslims fight themselves”.
And that is the underlying problem: a failure to understand. Because the mainstream media fail to inform. Too many people just see the ‘muslim vs muslim’ view, when it’s actually ‘government vs populace’.
As a help for some people, I draw parallels. “Imagine that an Augusta helicopter from the Belgian army hoovers over your kid’s school, and it drops an incendiary device on the school yard during play time.” – “That…that would be criminal!” – “Well, it’s what the government does over there.” And only then do they start to grasp the situation. That people are being killed because they are simply ‘there’.
And naive me, I actually thought that the proved chemical attack this summer would change something. Surely, now things would change! Alas no. Only the words that some red line was crossed and…that’s about it I guess.
I believe they’ve tried to coerce Albania into destroying the chemicals, they denied the offer. Belgium’s not taking the offer either.
So basically, the world is looking from the sidelines. Well, not exactly ‘looking’. It’s as if watching a horror movie: the world holds its hands in front of its face and looks through the fingers. And why? Because of no interests or conflicting interests. Either there’s no oil to be found or there is money to be made on arms, this dictates the fait of a people.
But wait! We do get concerned about the conflict when young muslims from our western nations leave for Syria to pick up arms against Assad. Because we fear they might return as trained terrorists. Or perhaps we feel ashamed that some individuals take action, driven by their faith, and our governments remain limp. (And no, I do not condone the fighting)
Fact is: we are enraged when men go fighting, but we ignore that a government is slaughtering its own people. I said it earlier, imagine that happening here. And imagine no outside help whatsoever.
That’s a blood chilling and depressing thought.