Diana Moukalled
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on : Tuesday, 27 Aug, 2013
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Opinion: Life goes on for the Assads

Life for Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad is going on as usual. Anyone who thinks that the phase following the chemical massacre in Eastern Ghouta will be any different to before is certainly delusional.

The regime announced that it did not launch the poisonous gas missiles. Rather, it accused the opposition of doing so and prevented the team of international inspectors from getting to the area. That was it. Russia even prevented the UN Security Council from issuing a stance and American president Barack Obama is tripping over his “red line,” mocked not just by Assad, but the whole world.

Public opinion got a little busy with photos of children killed by the gas and then went on to look after other affairs. The Syrian regime, which knows that the so-called “international community” won’t do anything, is not to blame here. Why would the world that has been silent over the death of 150,000 people and that has overlooked explosive barrels, jets, Scud missiles, slaughter and torture act now because a few hundred people died from a poisonous gas?

And why should we blame the regime? How much importance have we granted the victims of the chemical weapons through our coverage and follow-up to hold the regime accountable for undervaluing its people’s lives?

Al-Jazeera tripped up in its coverage of the shelling of Ghouta with chemical gas. Not one piece of news preceded the fights of the Brotherhood at Rabia Al-Adawiya Square in Cairo and the release of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

This is also true of other Arab and Western media outlets.

Hours after the news of the chemical massacre surfaced, it fell to the fifth position on the most-read section of BBC Arabic. News of Mubarak’s release and another on sex workers arrested in the Maldives preceded the former piece of news on Syria in the most read section.

News and photos of the chemical gas massacre in Ghouta, with women and children estimated to be 67 percent of the total victims, did not come first in many media outlets’ follow-up and was not among the public opinion’s concern. This daily massacre in Syria has been continuous for two and a half years, so why would murder with chemical gas be distinguished as merciless slaughter?

Life is normal in Syria. Twenty-four hours after the Ghouta massacre, Assad issued a governmental amendment about the ministries of tourism and commerce, emphasizing the role of the consumer protection authority. Is there something more important these days than encouraging tourism and the Syrian consumers’ rights?

A few days before the chemical shelling, Syria’s first lady, Asma Al-Assad, appeared in images on Instagram cooking with a group during a civil aid activity. The first lady was wearing an Accurate-branded watch that is not available in Syria today. She must have made significant efforts to attain it. This watch counts calories, the number of footsteps and heartbeats and the extent of physical activity its wearer practices.

Life is really going on as normal in Syria. All that is needed are amendments to the tourism ministry and a calculation of daily physical activity.

So why would the phase after a chemical massacre be any different from the phase before it?

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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