Published: 15 Oct 2019
An absolutely fascinating phenomenon accompanying the Turkish invasion of Syria has been watching the reaction of western journalists who once shilled for ‘moderate rebels’ now falling into the trap of having to condemn them.
Spearheading the Turkish invasion are the very “Free Syrian Army” and other “moderate” militants that the mainstream Western outlets have promoted for years as the victims of “genocidal monster” Bashar Assad in Damascus. Now, however, the “rebels” are baddies and Assad is the savior – at least when it comes to the Kurds the media have been lamenting as allies “betrayed” by US President Donald Trump. What a headache!
“When Turkish forces fight the Kurds the media calls them genocidal maniacs and ISIS-helpers,” tweeted scholar Max Abrahms. “When Turkish forces fight [Syrian President Bashar] Assad the media calls them rebels and revolutionaries.”
Outlets like the Washington Post are now describing as “crazy and not reliable” the very same militants they defended as “moderate rebels” just months earlier, journalist Aaron Mate pointed out.
“There are surely proxy war apologists who previously cheered on FSA now pained by their atrocities against Syrian Kurds,” Mate tweeted, noting that they shouldn’t be taken seriously unless they apologize to those they smeared as “Assadists” for being right all along.
While no apologies have been forthcoming, there has been plenty of hand-wringing by western journalists. Here is Danny Gold of PBS Newshour, bemoaning the discovery that the anti-government fighter he once “embedded with” (while working for Vice) is now taking part in Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria:
Reading the mainstream Western press this week, one would think they are the real victims of last week’s developments – not the Syrian Kurds whose fate they are lamenting – as the narrative they have crafted and maintained since 2011 is falling apart. Not only has the Turkish invasion exposed the true nature of “moderate rebels,” it has also served as a pretext for a general US withdrawal from Syria, and a deal between the Kurds and the Syrian government that Washington has spent years blocking.
Needless to say, the process is not going too well.
“Trump has driven the Kurds into Russia’s arms,” tweeted Edward Luce, chief US columnist for Financial Times, describing the Syrian development as a disaster of global proportions, an unraveling of the world order that only benefits the Kremlin.
“I don’t know whether it’s too late to retrieve the benign image America had in most of the world. But the light is failing,” Luce said in a thread on Monday.