From Washington to the western media, everyone has been talking about reports of potential Russian ‘intervention’ in Syria. On the one hand, the proliferation of this meme is a case study in the western propaganda system, as one report is then repeated ad nauseam from thousands of sources, then built upon by subsequent reports, thereby manufacturing the irrefutable truth from the perspective of media pundits and western mouthpieces. On the other hand, the new reports also raise some interesting questions about the motives of both the US and Russia, as well as the other interested parties to the conflict in Syria.
In examining this new chapter of the ongoing war in Syria, two critical and interrelated points seem to rise above all others in importance: Why is the western media hyping this narrative of Russian intervention? And why is direct Russian involvement, limited though it may be, seen as such a threat by the US?
Dissecting the Propaganda
An Israeli publication reported that Russian air power would be increasing in Syria with “Russian jets in Syrian skies,” as the headline read. While all the information came from unnamed “western diplomatic sources,” and was accompanied by little more than assertions of fact without any tangible evidence, the media outcry began almost immediately, with literally hundreds of news outlets reporting the same information. Within 24 hours however, a Russian military source denied the allegations, saying, “There has been no redeployment of Russian combat aircraft to the Syrian Arab Republic…The Russian Air Force is at its permanent bases and carrying out normal troop training and combat duty.”
Almost as if on cue, the next day The Daily Beast published a story claiming that there were Russian boots on the ground in Syria, as well as large shipments of military materiel en route to Syria, including trucks and BTR infantry fighting vehicles. The article cited Turkish navy photos showing a Russian ship purportedly carrying the cargo, quite openly it must be said (more on this later).
Naturally, the conversation in Washington instantly became about Russian intervention and the danger of Russia “destabilizing” the situation in Syria, an assertion that would be laughable if it weren’t so deeply cynical and hypocritical considering four and a half years of US-NATO-GCC-Israel intervention in Syria.