Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Syria on Iran

I think this is something people have been curious about: how is the conflict in Iran playing in Syria? How is it presented? What are people saying? The answer is not as exciting as one might hope. Here are a couple paragraphs I just wrote to a friend, lightly edited in retrospect:

As for coverage: not really sure, frankly. I haven't heard much about it. I got one guy to talk about it, and he sort of talked generally about what he thinks of Ahmedinejad but not the situation. I haven't seen anything on the Syrian blog I read (I need moooooore) or even the Lebanese ones. It seems like it's mostly American intellectuals and journalists who are feverishly covering this; Arabs, I think, are sticking to their own issues and waiting to see what happens. Every Arab in America or Britain I've talked to is highly skeptical that anything will come of it, and it seems quite possible that that's the prevailing attitude around here. Nobody wants to be left high and dry with dicey political statements.

In fact, Syria was one of the first political entities to congratulate Ahmedinejad on his victory (along with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizballah, among others). Politics is a subject that most people avoid here or speak of in generalities; if the official position is "Congrats, Ahmadi Najad," I'd be surprised if people were running around with green armbands, you know?

I will add that at least on the TV in the hostel where I used to stay you can get Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English as well as the BBC. Al Jazeera English has been covering it in a fashion that seems mostly neutral but occasionally seems to fall ever so subtly one way or the other. Sometimes they make prognoses for the revolutionaries that are perhaps a little more negative than they should be; sometimes, like when they were doing a history segment on the 1979 Iranian revolution, they show really unflattering pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini (not Khameini). My Arabic isn't good enough (YET) to understand straight up Al Jazeera.

That's all I got, really. Further bulletins as events warrant and all that.

ETA: Check out Citizen Tube for the latest videos coming out of Iran.

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