The view from Syria

clashes iin Beirut.jpg
In the Syrian view Hezbollah liberated West Beirut from armed gangs supported by Israel. © AFP

HOMS, May 14, 2008 (MENASSAT) – Those Syrians who rely on the official Syrian media for their news did not learn that Hezbollah and other opposition militants shut down Future TV and News, al-Sharq radio and al-Mustaqbal newspaper, or that they set the old Future TV building in Raouche on fire.

Indeed, most Syrians believe that [pro-government leaders] Walid Jumblatt and Saad Hariri were the ones who started the war to occupy Beirut and terrorize its citizens, and that Hezbollah was the savior who liberated West Beirut from the armed gangs and militia supported by Israel.

This is only natural given that the Syrian media gave wide attention to the speeches of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and his Christian ally Michel Aoun while ignoring Walid Jumblatt or PM Fouad Siniora except to mock them as lackeys of Israel and the United States.

The SANA official news agency happily passed on the results of an Al-Jazeera poll which showed that most respondents hold the Lebanese government, Israel and the U.S. responsible for the current crisis.

A good sample of the view from Syria is Thishrine newspaper, which painted a picture of West Beirut being terrorized by the Future party militia who were blocking the roads while their snipers killed innocent civilians. The opposition, on the other hand, was reported to "continue with its peaceful civil disobedience campaign."

The newspaper never once mentioned that it was Hezbollah and its allies who invaded West Beirut, a fact that even Hezbollah itself is not denying.

The semi-private Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the Syrian regime, went even further, saying that "the Lebanese opposition purified Beirut from mercenaries, bringing back autonomy and independence to Beirut in order to put a stop to the arming of Future and PSP militias, and were able in few hours to revive the capital, bringing back autonomy and independence to it."

Al-Watan concluded that "the opposition has released Lebanon from the era of conspiracy and cowardice, and [Walid] Jumblatt got what he deserved."

The Al-Baath newspaper, speaking in the name of the regime, did not deny the military operation by Hezbollah but said that its aim was "to remove the foreign tutelage and to end the conspiracy aiming to transform Lebanon or parts of it into an Israeli territory and a new bridgehead for the American presence in the region." The opposition, Al-Baath wrote, "surprised them by setting things straight in Lebanon before the government was able to accomplish its coup prepared in Washington."

The Internet

As for the e-newspapers and websites, their stands were similar to that of the official newspapers. The Sham Press and Syria News websites, which are close to the regime, launched a severe attack on the Lebanese government accusing it of conspiring with Israel.

Sham Press, citing the Israeli website Filka, revealed that "a group of Israeli Mossad agents took refuge in [Communications Minister] Marwan Hamade." The group, it said, had been working on planting highly sophisticated spying devices on Hezbollah's private telecommunication network .

As for the opposition media outlets working on the Syrian territories, they preferred to avoid mentioning the conflict in Lebanon, fearing the clash with the Syrian authorities in this tough situation.