Assad is living a ‘normal life’

Diana Moukalled
Diana Moukalled
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Life for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is going on as usual. Anyone who thinks that the phase following the chemical massacre in Eastern Ghouta will be any different to before is certainly delusional.

The regime announced that it did not launch the poisonous gas missiles. Rather, it accused the opposition of doing so and prevented the team of international inspectors from getting to the area. That was it. Russia even prevented the U.N. Security Council from issuing a stance and American president Barack Obama is tripping over his “red line” mocked, not just by Assad, but the whole world.

Public opinion got a little busy with photos of children killed by the gas and then went on to look after other affairs. The Syrian regime, which knows that the so-called “international community” won't do anything, is not to blame here. Why would the world that has been silent over the death of 150,000 people and that has overlooked explosive barrels, jets, Scud missiles, slaughter and torture act now because a few hundred people died using a poisonous gas?

And why should we blame the regime? How much importance have we granted the victims of the chemical weapons through our coverage and follow-up to hold the regime accountable for undervaluing its people's lives?

Is there something more important these days than encouraging tourism and the Syrian consumers' rights?

Diana Moukalled

Al-Jazeera channel tripped up in its coverage of the shelling of Ghouta with chemical gas. Not one piece of news preceded the fights of the Brotherhood Rabia al-Aadwiya Square in Cairo and the release of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. This also applies to other Arab and Western media outlets.

Hours after the news of the chemical massacre surfaced, it fell to the fifth position on the most-read section of BBC Arabic. News of Mubarak's release and another on sex workers arrested in the Maldives preceded the former piece of news on Syria in the most read section.

News and photos of the chemical gas massacre in Ghouta, with women and children estimated to be 67% of the total victims, did not come first in many media outlets' follow-up and was not among the public opinion's concern. This daily massacre in Syria has been continuous for two and a half years, so why would murder with chemical gas be distinguished as merciless slaughter?

Life is normal in Syria. Twenty four hours after the Ghouta massacre, Assad issued a governmental amendment that included the ministries of tourism and commerce emphasizing the role of the consumer protection authority. Is there something more important these days than encouraging tourism and the Syrian consumers' rights?

Keeping fit in a war zone

A few days before the chemical shelling, Syria’s First Lady Asma al-Assad appeared in images on Instagram cooking with a group during a civil aid activity. The first lady was wearing an Accurate-branded watch that is not available in Syria today. She must've made significant efforts to attain it. This watch is specialized in counting calories, the number of footsteps and heartbeats and the extent of physical activity its wearer practices.

Life is really going on as normal in Syria. All that is needed are amendments to the tourism ministry and a calculation of daily physical activity. So why would the phase after a chemical massacre be any different from the phase before it?

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on August 26, 2013.


Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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