For Syria's sake: Drop the conspiracies

The military strike against Syria has two goals: to defend the peace of the world and to rescue Syrians from Al-Assad. For Syria's sake, the Egyptian media must drop the conspiracies

Syria in plain sight
Ahmed Abdel-Raheem
On 8 September 2013 19:23

From the perspective of cognitive science and cognitive linguistics, frames are the most common mental structures, and a huge number of mental structures are metaphorical.

We have long-term systems of conceptual frames and metaphors in the brain. They are strengthened and often made prominent through use or repetition. And the better a new mental structure ''fits'' existing mental structures, the more effective it will be; that is, the more people will think, and make decisions, using that mental structure. In this sense, the elite get to impose their metaphors and frames.

And so we come to the conspiracy narrative, so deep in the minds of Egyptians and indeed all Arabs. The Egyptian (as well as Arab) media appears to understand this very well.

Yesterday, the most widely-circulated daily Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram, which is considered loyal to the government, ran a cartoon depicting Syria as a door though which Uncle Sam, who represents America, is entering the Arab world. The analogy highlights that America is an imperialist power that tries to steal the capabilities, treasures, and acquisitions of Arab countries. What is hidden is that the current Syrian regime became a real threat to world peace, after it had used chemical weapons against innocent civilians in the Ghouta region, taking the lives of nearly 1, 300 people.

Also suppressed by the cartoon is that, for about three years, the US has been almost deaf to the crimes and atrocities committed by Bashar Al-Assad against his people. Furthermore, the dictator of Syria is supported and enhanced by many terrorist groups and regimes, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Khamenei in Iran.

More crucially, Al Assad’s use of weapons of mass destruction will encourage others to imitate him and even to develop their own WMD.

Furthermore, no one can deny the very important role that the American military strike in Libya has played in helping the country get rid of its dictator Muammar Gaddafi.  On this account, any military action against Syria is crucial.

In an interview with Al-Ahram over the weekend, Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Arabi rejected the conspiracy theory and stressed the importance of US intervention in Syria. Al-Ahram, however, has described his views as politicised in the interest of America. It even described the Arab League as a ''cover for the foreign aggression'' which is ''carrying out the American agenda in the region.''

This act of demonisation against anyone supporting the intervention in Syria is so common in the Egyptian media. Al-Akhbar, for example, published its own cartoon of US President Barack Obama kicking the Earth – another metaphor, this time stressing that Obama is playing a game with the world. In reality, not launching a military air strike against Al Assad’s regime would undermine the world's security and peace.

The point here is that these Egyptian news outlets work on the activation of the conspiracy frame. Crucially, Al-Akhbar ran a front-page story condemning any military action against Syria’s dicator. The newspaper has called for unity against what it terms ''the new and old imperial powers that try to Balkanize our nation.''

It seems that such outlets fear future US intervention in Egypt in response to the current large-scale violations of human rights in the country.

On this account, it should be remembered that the first democratically-elected Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted by the army last June, has withdrawn the Egyptian ambassador from Syria; and only the current authorities restored the country's diplomatic ties with Al-Assad's regime.  So the question is, who ''sponsors terror'' in the region?

Finally, it must be stressed that the military strike against Syria has two goals: to defend the peace of the world and to rescue Syrians from Al-Assad. For Syria's sake, the Egyptian media must drop the conspiracies.

The writer is an Egyptian artist and a PhD student       

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