With the arrival of Russian troops Syria has once again become big news. And once again I see the same propaganda tricks in the media. An overview:
80% of the Syrians is Sunni
This was in a recent article in the NY Times. Estimates before the war gave 70% Sunni, 12% Christians, 12% Alawites and 6% Druze, so very likely this puts the number of Sunni way too high.
More important is the suggestion that Assad is supposed by those 70 or 80%. Yet it is far from the truth. This number includes the Kurds (15% of the population) and many Arab Sunni's (mostly in the cities) who prefer Assad over the rebels. The rebels know this and they one of their demands at the negotiations is that Assad should not be allowed to take part in coming elections. The clearly aren't sure that they would win.
The only thing that those claims make clear is the sectarian motives of the countries that support the uprising.
Assad started the conflict by using violence against unarmed protesters
According to the law Assad would have the right to do so - provided it the violence is measured. Governments don't have the monopoly of violence for nothing. Against a color revolution that aims to gradually take over the state - first occupying the central square and then overrunning the parliament - it certainly would be justified.
But there are more lies in this claim. It also ignores that the protests never were nonviolent. On the first day of protest in Daraa the Baath party headquarters and the building of a mobile phone company owned by an Assad relative were set on fire. This would become standard operating procedure in following protests in other cities.
The protests also had another violent element that seldom is reported. While the main protests happened peacefully on the main square of a city in the streets around that square there were violent groups of youth who battled the police and prevented it as long as possible from reaching the square.
Assad is using violence against his own population
Obama has a standard operating procedure: first he instigates the population of a country to start an uprising and then he accuses its government of using violence against its own population. Pure hypocrisy!
the uprising is spontaneous
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have spent billions of dollars on funding the uprising. They pay for its arms and they pay the rebel fighters a wage that is much higher than what the subscripts in Assad's government army receive. Without this money the uprising would have ended long ago.
Assad is only interested in prolonging his own rule
Any suggestion that Assad has non-selfish motives is discarded. The rule of law, the secular character of Syria or even the protection of the Alawites: all such arguments by Assad and his supporters are discarded with a wave of hand.
Putin wants to distract the attention from the bad economic situation at home
Many newspapers have published theories like these. It is a dirty discussion tactic because questioning someone's motives deflects the attention from the facts on the ground. Besides that motives are usually mixed and impossible to prove as they happen in someone else's head. A reader of the NY Times ("Carolyn") made nice comment on this: I don't know why so many feel compelled to assign ulterior motives to the Russia government when it's doing exactly what it declared it would do. There's no mystery; no "testing NATO," no "testing the U.S.", no embarking on a Cold War. Russia does not have "an inferiority complex," nor does she want to "assert herself" as a world power because she IS a world power, and HAS BEEN since WW II. Russia has two objectives as was openly declared: supporting Assad and wiping out terrorists. That's exactly what she's doing; no guess work needed.