The opposing narratives of Aleppo’s siege
There should be no greater priority than saving thousands of civilians whose lives are jeopardized by Syrian, Russian and Iranian gunfire
The huge billows of smoke quickly vanished from Aleppo’s sky. The smoke was caused by tires that residents burnt to obstruct Syrian regime and Russian jets from shelling besieged areas. A small victory was achieved in terms of attempts to end the siege of 300,000 people, but polarization over the ongoing battle in Aleppo has quickly dominated.
There should be no greater priority than saving thousands of civilians whose lives are jeopardized daily by merciless Syrian, Russian and Iranian gunfire. However, what is happening in Aleppo does not take into consideration residents’ ordeal, as much as it has turned the city into a huge arena where residents’ fates are exploited to fuel regional and international conflicts.
The best way to increase anger is to circulate footage and media reports that ignite tensions. Facebook pages and Twitter users handle the rest by igniting online arenas with hatred, to the extent that battles on these pages become more violent than real fighting.
The Syrian regime, backed by Iran and Russia, paved the way for the Aleppo campaign via scenes of regime supporters celebrating the siege and calling for destruction of areas and the killing of people. Their media outlets described what was happening as a “security cordon,” not a siege, and ignored bloodshed.
Their reports on humanitarian passages are lies. Residents have kept away from them because they know they are media propaganda and a trap.
The regime, its allies and supporters celebrate Aleppo’s siege amid calls to be more violent. Meanwhile, rebel groups continue to adopt an extremist, sectarian approachDiana Moukalled
The media propaganda of the regime and its allies is confronted by an opposing scene by rebel groups. Some of the violent videos they have circulated have stirred uproar. What has stirred the most uproar is the Sham Legion, one of the groups in the Army of Conquest, naming the most violent battle in Aleppo “Ibrahim al-Youssef.” He was a Syrian army officer who in the 1980s murdered officers at a military school for sectarian reasons.
The regime, its allies and supporters celebrate Aleppo’s siege amid calls to be more violent. Meanwhile, rebel groups continue to adopt an extremist, sectarian approach that does not end at calls to get rid of the regime. Amid all this, it is the besieged people of Aleppo who suffer.
Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside the regime and Russian forces, has used sectarian names for its battles ever since it began fighting in Syria. It has used these names as a means of sectarian and media mobilization that has contributed to fueling tensions.
The current battle to lift the siege of Aleppo was named after a sectarian war criminal - this increases sectarian stupidity and provides a huge, free service to the regime.
The regime has succeeded in dragging everyone into sectarian tension, and using this as a slogan for any confrontation or battle. The worst are those who view these sectarian slogans, headlines and practices as normal, and believe we must all submit to them. Such people are promising the Syrian people salvation from one huge injustice, only to suffer another.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on August 8, 2016.
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.