Saturday, December 20, 2014

A response to the Sam Dagher's story in the Wall Street Journal

A well-known Western journalist in the Middle East (who does not wish to be identified) sent me this reaction:
"Any article that begins by quoting Manaf Tlass as a source immediately loses credibility, but then the only thing that discredits one more than quoting Tlass is quoting Walid Jumblatt
I’m curious why they decided to publish this now, its very weird, an article blaming Iran and Hizballah without any evidence or anything new to say about an explosion over two years old. There has to be something to the timing.
Tlass never told me or any of his close friends either story until now and they are surprised by his claims. He’s making up the story about being personally targeted. Also he would not know anything about this stuff, he was cut off from the internal workings of the regime, and he left before it happened. Moreover important insurgent leaders claimed to be behind the attack and western intelligence agencies did not blame the regime but thought it was an insurgent operation.
Shawqat was in fact well liked by many of the local opposition leaders he met at the time, whether in Homs or Reef Dimashq or elsewhere. And some were wondering if he was building his own kingdom. But he was not the only pragmatist in the regime at the time.
While elements in the regime might be cynical enough to do something like this, this article proves nothing and repeats rumor and gossip. It’s a surprise because Dagher is one of the best Western correspondents covering the Middle East and his work on Syria was better than most.
The bombing did not spur more Alawites to support the regime any more than any other incident let alone the nature of the opposition itself, and the nature of Alawites themselves too
The article greatly exaggerates the role of Iran and Hizballah, important as their roles are. Syria is not in the hands of Iran but of course Iran has influence and there are Iranian advisors.
“The killing of two Syrian protesters by regime forces on March 18, 2011, in the city of Deraa, changed everything. It shattered a short period of peaceful marches by mostly Sunni crowds calling for Mr. Assad’s ouster.”
March 18 was the first Friday demonstration in Daraa, so the short period had not started yet, nor had calls for Assad’s ouster really started yet
Also I do not think Faruq Sharaa was put under house arrest."