While media reports paint a picture of the situation in Syria as a
mass public uprising brutally suppressed by the dictatorial government,
the events are viewed in a totally different way by those living there.
RT caught up with Anhar Kochneva, director of a Moscow-based tourist
firm specializing in the Middle East. She often travels to Syria, and
stays in touch with hundreds of people in the region. She shared what
her contacts say about the unfolding unrest and who they blame for the
RT: What’s happening in Syria? What have you seen? And that are the Syrians saying?
Not even once did I come across anyone who would in any way support
these riots; and mind you, in the line of my job, I deal with all sorts
of people. There are many vehicles with the president’s portraits
driving the streets throughout the country – ranging from old, barely
moving crankers to brand new Porsches and Hummers. You can’t force
people into hanging up portraits. It means that people, irrespective of
their status and income, support the president rather than the
rebellion. I saw quite a number of young people walking or driving
around with Syrian flags. How can you force a young person hanging out
with friends to wave flags? I think it’s difficult too. If you
understand the mentality of the Syrians you can tell there is a sincere
impulse from a forced obligation.
On March 29, I saw a rally in
Hama to support the president – indeed, many thousands of men and women,
with their children, and entire families went out. The streets were
flooded with people. It was quite a shock to see Al-Jazeera presenting
rallies in support of the president as if they were protests against
him. It was just as surprising to see the Israeli websites post photos
and videos of supporters’ rallies with comments saying those were
opponents of the regime. There you have people holding portraits of
Bashar al-Assad and flags, and we’re told that these people are against
RT: The media reports mass anti-government rallies.
a powerful misinformation swell going on. On April 1, the media
reported a large anti-governmental rally in Damascus. I was in Damascus
on that day. This rally never happened – I didn’t see it, and neither
did the locals.
On April 16, Reuters news agency wrote that 50,000
opponents of the regime took to the streets of Damascus, and that they
had been dispersed with tear gas and batons. Damascus’ residents realize
that such a rally could not take place in the city unnoticed. How many
policemen would it take to disperse it? And how come nobody saw it
except Reuters? Five hundred people in the streets of Damascus are a
large crowd. Reuters broadcast their material around the world,
including Russia. One source lies, and then this lie is like a snowball
rolling downhill creating a fake reality, and picking up rumor and
People in Syria watch the footage. What do they see?
A picture allegedly from Yemen. A picture allegedly from Egypt. A
picture allegedly from Syria. But the pictures all show people dressed
in the same fashion. People in Syria can tell their fellow countrymen
from their neighbors – both by their faces and their clothes.
are videos on the internet showing how amateur footage of the so-called
riots is made. There’s a parked car and nothing’s going on around. And
there’s a man standing next to it throwing rocks. And people around are
There are a lot of staged videos. A Lebanese can
tell the difference between footage taken in Lebanon and that taken in
Damascus at a glance. And they show footage from Tripoli, or footage
taken several years ago in Iraq, and say it is unrest in Syria.
are many online forums for women in Arab countries. Women share
information following TV reports on ‘mass unrests’. Women write – what’s
happening outside your window? And they reply: we looked down from the
balcony, and didn’t see anything that the TV was talking about.
a lot of young unarmed policemen get killed. The media propaganda
immediately labels them as victims of the regime. I repeat, policemen
are unarmed. The Syrian police are not too good with guns, because
nothing like this has happened here for a long time. But the killed
rookies are reported as either victims among the protestors, or as
policemen who refused to shoot at their fellow countrymen, depending on
the editors’ preference. Goebbels’ words seem to be true: the bigger the
lie, the more easily they believe it.
RT: But why are policemen dying if there are no mass protests?
AK: Policemen die because they get shot by those who know that they are unarmed.
RT: Who shoots policemen?
talk a lot about it in Syria. Rumor has it that trained commandos came
across the border from Iraq. People in Syria are well-aware that after
the US occupied Iraq, they formed special squads there. They were
killing people, stirring up conflicts between the Shiite and Sunni
communities, and between Muslims and Christians; they were blowing up
streets, markets, mosques and churches. Those terrorist attacks targeted
civilians rather than the occupying regime.
Not long ago, they
caught three such commandos in the outskirts of Damascus, when they were
randomly shooting at people. They turned out to be Iraqis.
TV showed footage of somebody shooting at policemen and passers-by from
bushes and rooftops. They occasionally get caught, and they either turn
out to be Iraqis, or they admit that they were paid for it. Such
militants were detained in Deraa and Latakia. They had US-made weapons.
Lebanese security service intercepted several cars carrying weapons as
they were coming into Lebanon. One such car was stopped coming from
Iraq. There were American weapons in those cars too. Also there are
reports about detained people who had large sums of money with them –
with US dollars. These people carried expensive satellite phones that
cannot be tapped by the Syrian security service.
In Syria, it is
no longer a secret to anyone that the Americans have an unhindered
opportunity to recruit and train the commandos in Iraq, and then send
them wherever they want.
Hilary Clinton has already stated that if
Syria cuts its relations with Iran and withdraws its support for Hamas
and Hezbollah, the demonstrations would stop the next day. They don’t
even bother to keep secret the hand instilling riots in Syria.
There’s plenty of evidence of foreign interference.
people say protestors are brought in from afar for the rallies. Those
people speak and look differently from the locals. Nobody in the
neighborhood knows them. Who rents the buses and finances the delivery
of these people? The question stands.
The former Syrian
Vice-President Abdel Halim Khaddam had initiated the riots in the
coastal regions. He had plundered half of the country. He was involved
in corruption schemes and finally fled to the West. It was he who tried
to accuse Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of assassinating the former
Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. The Syrians firmly believe that
Sayed Hariri had personally given a villa to Abdel Halim Khaddam for
spreading this version of Rafic Hariri’s murder. But when that version
fell apart and was not confirmed, the villa was taken away. Today, those
who shot at cars in Banias are shouting: “We don’t want Bashar. We want
There are peaceful and cultured opposition
members in Banias who have been against al-Assad’s regime for many
years. But they are shocked by what’s going on and do not support
Khaddam at all. They say: “He’s a thief. He who stole most calls to
fight corruption and thievery.”
RT: What role are Syrian emigrants playing in the Syrian destabilization?
It’s an open question. There was a leak claiming that Dan Feldman,
Hillary Clinton’s special representative for the Middle East, met
representatives of the Syrian opposition in Istanbul in mid-April and
suggested the tactics for assassinations of civil and military
officials. In less than three days, on April 19, several military
officials had been brutally killed in Syria. Not only were they
attacked and shot dead, some victims of the attacks, including three
teenage children of a Syrian general, who were in a car with him, were
cut to pieces with sabres.
Murders committed with a high degree
of brutality are aimed at intimidating the population. The news that
children had been cut to pieces served that purpose quite well.
reports used to say that the riots started after the arrest in the city
of Deraa, in southern Syria, of several children writing
anti-government slogans? Is it really so?
AK: All the children had been released very quickly. Moreover, the government-owned Syrian newspapers published the release orders.
RT: Have the troops been brought into Deraa?
troops are there. After an Islamic emirate had been proclaimed in
Deraa, the local residents asked the government for help. Troops have
been brought in. I’ve just seen the videos. The demonstrators published
them on the internet and shortly after erased them. But people made
copies. There are soldiers, and people come to them and talk peacefully.
Nobody shoots anyone.
RT: Is there a
sentiment in Syria that if it gets rid of Hamas support and the
Palestinians and strike a peace deal with Israel, all the riots will end
AK: No, there’s no such
sentiment. There’s consolidation of society. The people are sticking
together because they see that the enemy is extremely dangerous. For
instance, previously I never heard anything except pop music and the
recital of the Koran on the radio when I rode in a taxi. Now, patriotic
music is coming from all cars. When Bashar al-Assad was speaking on
television, the people who were listening to him at the market applauded
him. You cannot force people to applaud a president who speaks on
RT: What has the public mood been in recent days?
People are afraid of going out. In some regions, people risked their
lives to record with a secret camera how unidentified persons sneaked
into a car, moved off and started shooting in all directions. This is
how they are sowing panic in residential areas.
a bridge on the road near the coast. Soon, the military pushed them
back. One of my Syrian contacts told me: “you don’t need many people to
plunge the country into trouble.”
Putting five people on a major
road would be enough to paralyze the whole area. People are unable to
deliver foodstuffs or reach hospitals. And the whole country is in shock
because of a handful of bandits.
Now, Syrian television is making
live broadcasts from various parts of Damascus and other cities for
people to see how the situation is unfolding and how life is getting
back to normal, whatever the Western media show.
that bandits intentionally tried to rouse hatred among various
communities. Recently, a sheikh was insulting the Druze, particularly
women, in an address to the residents of the south. This video is being
broadcast by the foreign media and is advertized on the internet.
Nothing like that ever happened in Syria before. Provocations failed in
Damascus though attempts were made to set religious communities against
each other. Provocateurs lack support in rural areas too – the sowing
campaign has started there.
The most massive demonstrations in Dera gathered 500 people. But they say 450 people have been killed.
RT: Has the government launched any reforms?
The government has lifted martial law and has allowed the staging of
authorized rallies if permission for them is obtained five days ahead.
Foreigners have been allowed to buy real estate. The Kurds have been
granted citizenship. The Kurdish population didn’t have it before for a
number of historical reasons. The government is opening business courses
for women in northern Syria. Many provincial governors have been
dismissed. Unfortunately, in some cases they were honest people. Like
those who refused to free criminals from prison for bribes and had been
targeted by smear campaigns in public for it.
RT: Have the number of flights to Syria been cut?
There are no tickets for Syria. We wanted to dispatch a group of
tourists to Syria but there were no air tickets to Damascus for April
30. But Russians are not fleeing from Syria. I have full information
about it for my job.
RT, Κυριακή, 29 Ιουλίου 2012 (Western media lie about Syria – eyewitness reports)