The sheer ignorance of rambammed Sydney Morning Herald "international editor" Peter Hartcher was on glorious display on the paper's opinion page yesterday:
"[Bashar] Assad*'s father seized power in a coup in 1970. He was a ruthless dictator and is estimated to have killed some 20,000 Syrians in a bloodbath in the city of Homs when it resisted his rule." (Spotlight is on Assad if Gaddafi falls)
The city concerned was, of course, Hama, but Homs it is in the print edition. However, someone's since had a word in Hartcher's or the Herald's ear, leading to a correction on the website.
Now you see it, now you don't!
[* Typically, Hartcher, who knows SFA about the Arab world, can't even transliterate Asad's name correctly.]
But if only that were all. Unfortunately, the piece is problematic in other ways too:
There's the inevitable Israeli talking head: "'Assad [sic] has a very narrow window of time', wrote Jacques Neriah, former foreign policy adviser to Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin."
There's the harem scarem description of Iran as "a theocratic power with nuclear ambitions and thoughts of regional hegemony," which, if 'nuclear arsenal' replaced 'nuclear ambitions', would better describe Israel. (But then we're yet to see anything like that from the Herald's Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan.)
There's the blatantly USraeli propagandist take on Iran's links with Syria: "Syria is crucial to Iran's ambitions. Under Assad [sic], Syria has helped Iran project power. It supports Iran's international militant network, Hezbollah, and has helped it to intimidate and influence Lebanon, which has become a client... And Syria under Assad [sic] also supports the militant Hamas, whose political wing controls the Palestinian territory of the Gaza strip. Like Hezbollah, Hamas also operates a terrorist arm."
Gee, you wouldn't realise from this drivel that Hezbollah and its March 8 allies picked up 55% of the popular vote in the Lebanese elections of 2009, or that Hamas won the last democratic elections in Palestine in 2006.
And there's the reporting of USraeli propagandist piffle as fact: "This helps explain why Iran has been sending support to Assad [sic], including the Iranian snipers reported to be shooting Syrian demonstrators from rooftops." (See my 14/6/11 post Deja Vu All Over Again.)