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Syria’s U.N. envoy fabricates quotes to attack Al Arabiya

Published: Updated:

Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Ja’afari has yet again presented false information to the U.N. Security Council.

During a debate on violence against women and children in Syria, Ja’afari lashed out at Al Arabiya News Channel, accusing it of supporting “terrorists.”

However, the Syrian diplomat cited non-existent quotes from an interview which the channel conducted with Abdulqader Saleh, the leader of the Syrian rebel group, Tawhid Brigade.

Renowned for being a top spin-doctor for the Assad regime, Ja’afari presented a fabricated account of the interview which was aired last week, watched by millions of Arab viewers and is also available online through Al Arabiya’s website.

“Two days ago, I was watching Saudi’s Al Arabiya TV, this channel was hosting a terrorist who leads a group of Islamists affiliated with al-Qaeda in Aleppo,” Ja’afari said.

Assad’s U.N. delegate quoted Saleh as telling Al Arabiya that the Syrian rebels plan to impose Islamic Shariah law on religious and ethnic minorities in Syria.

“Either they join Islam, pay Jizyah [tax for being non-Muslim] or we kill them with a sword,” Ja’afari further quoted the Syrian rebel leader as saying on Al Arabiya television.

Abdulqader Saleh had appeared on Al Arabiya’s “Point of Order” political show last week and anyone who had watched the episode would have been able to tell that what he said was quite the opposite of what Ja’afari claimed.

What Saleh actually said was:

“Minorities will live a much better life than the life they live under this regime,” Saleh said. “We respect the rights of minorities and consider their feelings. There won’t be any behavior which humiliates minorities or oppresses their rights.”

In response to Ja’afari’s imaginary quotes, Al Arabiya English is also providing an English subtitled clip of the rebel leader’s statements as they appeared on Al Arabiya News Channel; which the channel has also been playing tonight to show the massive contrast between what has actually been aired and what Ja’afari has falsely claimed.

A History of false accusations

Ja’afari’s attack against Al Arabiya Thursday was not the first one. In January, he accused the channel of orchestrating terrorist activities in his country.

“Al Arabiya channel is considered the operation’s room that directs terror actions… this is what we mean by media cover and support given to terror and armed groups in Syria,” he said.

Ja’afari made those claims following a series of investigative reports published by Al Arabiya English about his daughter Sheherazad Ja’afari (Sherry), who worked as media advisor for President Assad as well as a New York-based PR company which represented the regime.

In those leaked emails, Sherry was instructed to hide any controversial fact about Syria from Joan Buck, the Vogue editor who with Sherry’s help produced a positive profile about Assad’s wife, Asma, while the regime was murdering innocent democracy-seeking protesters in 2011.

(Al Arabiya obtains new leaked emails of Assad’s New York-based media advisor)

(Assad’s ex-PR firm: ‘Regime chose to save itself rather than the country)

Spin-doctor at work

Syria’s Assad recently sought to portray its war against opposition fighters as a war between a modern, civilized and secular regime against Islamist extremists who seek to impose the Shariah law and persecute minorities, especially Christians.

In his U.N. speech Ja’afari repeatedly mentioned how Christians will be persecuted and driven out of Syria if opposition fighters, he said are members of al-Qaeda, win the war.

In an interview with the Sunday Times in March, President Bashar al-Assad signaled a change in the regime’s way of talking to the West. Assad resorted to words he thought might resonate better with the West, saying Syria is “the last bastion of secularism in the region,” which be let fall prey to the ideology of al-Qaeda.

An Al Arabiya source with insider knowledge of Assad’s media operations said The Sunday Times may have provided interview question for Assad, allowing him time to better prepare for the interview with the help of his PR advisors.

Assad had the questions in advance,” the Al Arabiya source said.

“This isn’t a case of main topics or themes of the interview being shared to help the President prepare, this is a case of him having the whole list of questions and his PR advisors having enough time to prepare his answers for him,” Al Arabiya’s source added.

The Sunday Times opted not to comment at the time when asked by Al Arabiya, however its article marked Assad’s first major interview with international media in over a year.

Ja’afari holds a Joker card in Al Arabiya’s “Lion Den” interactive guide of the Syrian regime top figures.