Manufacturing consent for the Syrian War

Manufacturing consent for the Syrian War

Wikileaks showed us that the US government had been planning to overthrow the Syrian government as early as 2006. At the time, a cable revealed it was funding radio programs by the Syrian opposition in the UK.

After the Arab Spring, when people across the Middle East protested their governments, the US and the UK saw an opportunity to advance their interests.

We knew that the US had started funding opposition groups in Syria to fight the government in what became known as the Syrian Civil War.

What we didn’t know is that the opposition was also practically created and sustained by propaganda commissioned by the UK and US governments.

A new leak by a group calling themselves Anonymous has revealed that UK government contractors were working within Syria as early as 2011, creating and disseminating propaganda to foment dissent against the Assad government. The leak shows that they were not only supporting an armed opposition to Assad, but creating it.

Another of their tasks was to market extremist jihadhist groups as moderate.

Benjamin Norton from The Grayzone has reported on these new leaked documents.

He writes this of the Dubai-based UK contractor ARK:

“In a leaked document it filed with the British government, ARK said its “focus since 2012 has been delivering highly effective, politically-and conflict-sensitive Syria programming for the governments of the United Kingdom, United States, Denmark, Canada, Japan and the European Union.”

“ARK boasted of overseeing $66 million worth of contracts to support pro-opposition efforts in Syria.

ARK apparently had operatives on the ground inside Syria at the beginning of the regime-change attempt in 2011, reporting to the UK FCO that “ARK staff are in regular contact with activists and civil society actors whom they initially met during the outbreak of protests in spring 2011.”

ARK played a central role in developing the foundations of the Syrian political opposition’s narrative. In one leaked document, the firm took credit for the “development of a core Syrian opposition narrative,” which was apparently crafted during a series of workshops with opposition leaders sponsored by the US and UK governments.

In an earlier blogpost from 2015 I talked about the US focus on regime change in Syria and Libya as being driven in large part by the fact that both countries had state-owned oil companies. Unlike the US, the countries also had socialized health care. Libya in particular boasted the highest standard of living in Africa. After the NATO-led intervention it has become what some have referred to as an “open-air slave market”.

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