I have no expert knowledge of Syria, have never been there, and speak no Arabic. Like most in the West, I rely on the media and NGOs for information. However, discovering they are not entirely reliable, I was drawn into investigating the question ‘who to believe about Syria?’
Equipped with some basic skills in logic and epistemology (i.e. an alertness to contradictions and unfeasible knowledge claims) I began to try and work out just how we have been misled regarding the war in Syria. That has involved particularly these four blog posts:
Alongside those case studies are several more posts as linked and summarised here.
Also, please note that the posts have attracted a good number of really interesting comments by others, and these are well worth reading, as they offer valuable further insights and raise significant new questions. (And, of course, please feel free to add your own.)
Having embarked on these commentaries, I was to become a member of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM). The group has drawn attention, amongst other things, to anomalies in reports of chemical attacks in opposition-held areas of Syria. It has also highlighted problems with OPCW reporting on chemical attacks. In the course of publishing its briefings, WGSPM and its members have come under repeated attack in the media. Meanwhile, it has earned a reputation among an informed section of the international public for its resilient pursuit of impartial and accurate reporting. It was the recipient for the leaked OPCW engineers’ assessment of the evidence at the scene of an alleged chemical attack on Douma in 2018 (an allegation that was taken as the pretext for Western airstrikes on Syria on 14 April 2018). The leak highlighted serious and ongoing problems within the OPCW that states of the Non-Aligned Movement had for some time already been concerned about. Testimony of OPCW whistleblowers has since been presented at the UK House of Commons and the United Nations Security Council.
Currently, I am preparing a book on how we were misled about Syria by strategic communications that one way or another have involved academia. Drafts of chapters are being posted on this website and readers’ comments are invited.