Assad, look in the mirror before you ‘fight terror’

In our new world that lives and dies on social media, officials condemn and condone in 140 characters while everyone is certain of the relevance and soundness of their opinion, reason and logic have become alien concepts.

In this new order where expertise is born in a heated moment, then dies as soon as the emotions subside while real bodies pile up in conflict zones where the “expert” megaphone cannot reach, commonsense and pragmatism are not required nor desired.

At a time when popularity or relevance are measured in numbers of followers, likes and shares, opinions and analysis are the cheapest commodity. Very few still worry about credibility or accountability. Opinions are thrown at you like a cheap trinket at the bazar, there is plenty of them at the source. If they turn out to be wrong, so what? Who’s there to hold anyone accountable? Who even remembers what the last tweet or post even said? Books are written, not necessarily sold or read, the news is too overwhelming to keep up with every development and every player. In this kind of atmosphere, one has to wonder how movers and shakers decide who to move or what to shake or in which direction to shake things anymore?

That U.S. foreign policy is plagued with contradictions and inconsistencies adds insult to injury

Octavia Nasr

That U.S. foreign policy is plagued with contradictions and inconsistencies adds insult to injury. The ignorance and late responses are proven recipes for disaster. The media have no clear aim as they struggle between actual reporting on the ground, serving patriotic or nationalistic agendas and not fully understanding the stories to discern between the various political, geographical and ethnic landscapes. This renders the chaos more maddening. There used to be a time when Western media referred to the “Middle East” while lumping all nations under one umbrella. The Arab uprisings exposed the deep layers, diversities and complexities, thus sending every Western and non-Western head spinning completely out of control.

Barbaric behavior

Now take the above scenes and add analysis in light of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s barbaric behavior and shocking expansion which the world seems to have just noticed, and the result is a mixture of opinions that go like this: The Arab world is not ready for democracy; Arabs need those ruthless dictators to keep them under control. While fallen tyrants are replaced by their minions, and while extremism feeds off fertile ground and spreads like wild fire, all of a sudden the worst kinds start to look appealing to the West. Enter the dangerous analysis that is making the rounds now: An alliance with Assad may stop this Middle East disintegration as an ISIS expansion threatens to redraw borders and reshape the region.

Facing the ill-advised idea of enlisting Assad’s help, one headline wins as the most absurd yet real in a very surreal kind of way: Syria expresses readiness to assist the world in its fight against terror.

The same Assad who supports and empowers ISIS to destroy dissent against him is offering to help the world fight terror. Makes as much sense as tasking the cat with watching over the bird, the cheese and the mouse!

This article was first published in al-Nahar on August 25, 2014.


Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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