Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 10, 2014

Syrian Nuns Freed - Media Is Concealing the Villains

Some 100 days ago foreign paid insurgents in Syria abducted nuns form a monastery in Maaloula in Syria. They freed the nuns only after receiving a huge ransom payment and after the Syrian government promised to let some of its prisoners go.

As the U.S. supported insurgents can do no bad U.S. media followed the fairy tales the kidnappers were telling and portrait the kidnapping as a "rescuing" them from government forces. Because that narrative, despite the ransom payment, is not allowed to change we now find some rather ridiculous twisting in the reports about the nuns' release.

Thus headline of the Australian SBS [corrected] is deceiving as Syrian rebels free kidnapped nuns - Syrian rebels have freed 13 nuns who were kidnapped last December in the town of Maalula.

People just scanning that headline will not learn that the "rebels" were those who had kidnapped the nuns. Some casual readers may even believe that the rebels freed the nuns from the Syrian government.

The New York Times Anne Barnard's fudging of the issue is even worse:

Nuns Released by Syrians After Three-Month Ordeal.

Released by "Syrians"? Are we sure that the Jabhat al-Nusra fighters who held those nuns are even from Syria? How does Anne Barnard know?

Then follows an opening paragraph with a classic obfuscating "A said, B said" without acknowledging that what A says is known to be a lie while what B said is certainly true:

Syrian insurgents released 13 nuns and three attendants who disappeared three months ago from their monastery in the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, Lebanese and Syrian officials said early Monday, ending a drama in which rebels said they were protecting the women from government shelling and Syrian officials said they were abducted in an act of intimidation against Christians.

Only nine paragraphs alter do we get a fact that makes clear that the kidnapping was indeed not for "protection":

Two rebel leaders from Yabroud, who identified themselves only as Abu al-Majd and Khaled, said that Qatar had offered to pay $4 million for the nuns’ release, but that Nusra had demanded $50 million. Abu al-Majd said the insurgents had also demanded the release of more than 100 people detained by the government, including women.

Does the NYT really believe that demanding millions and a prisoner release from a government for the release of people held by armed fighters is a sure sign of "protection" of the people held? Of course not. It is bullshit propaganda not worthy the electrons it is transported on.

Posted by b on March 10, 2014 at 14:07 UTC | Permalink


not SMS but SBS(Special Broacasting Service)

Posted by: brian | Mar 10 2014 14:30 utc | 1

SBS also promotes russiaphobia

the irony is SBS has long promoted various propagandas esp to do with israel

Posted by: brian | Mar 10 2014 14:44 utc | 2

Western journalists are from the Michael Jackson school of Journalism, where good is bad, and bad is good. On a serious note, the captors holding these poor nuns as hostages were well known, their location was known and the SAA was closing on their captors. War crimes should be pursued for those who captured these nuns and all the others.

Posted by: hans | Mar 10 2014 15:38 utc | 3

Also, MSM doesn't point out that Maaloula is still under insurgent control - churches burned, crosses and statues removed, religious icons destroyed, religious items urinated on, etc..

Once beautiful Maaloula is now a rebel wasteland.

Posted by: Brad | Mar 10 2014 15:48 utc | 4

I too was struck by the overtly misleading header, "Nuns Released by Syrians After Three-Month Ordeal." If there was ever any doubt that the NYT is an organ of state (say, for instance, after Judy Miller's breathless WMD puffery in the run up to the invasion of Iraq), its reporting on the Ghouta sarin attack as well as the putsch in Kiev should settle it once and for all.

Today's frontpage story by C.J. Chivers is another example. Trying to create the impression that Kiev in the run up to Yanukovych's ouster was some sort of Salvadorean killing field, Chivers trots out every dark whisper and violent rumor in an orgy of speculation. It is embarrassing. But I think the Times did it in response to the growing number of stories on the Paet-Ashton leak regarding the sniper fire on the Maidan.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Mar 10 2014 15:59 utc | 5

oh fergawdsake, ICC here we go; too bad the US never signed on...

Posted by: Nora | Mar 10 2014 16:23 utc | 6

Nora 6

What a sick joke! Where were fbi during tymoshenko ruling, or will fbi probe the new coup leaders and their wealth too!? Sick f*ckin joke!

Posted by: Anonymous | Mar 10 2014 16:44 utc | 7

Anyone want to read between these lines?

Office of the Press Secretary
March 10, 2014

Readout of the President’s Call with President Xi of China

The President spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the evening of March 9 regarding the situation in Ukraine. The two leaders agreed on the fundamental importance of focusing on common interests and deepening practical cooperation to address regional and global challenges for the development of bilateral relations. In that context, they affirmed their shared interest in reducing tensions and identifying a peaceful resolution to the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. The two leaders agreed on the importance of upholding principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, both in the context of Ukraine and also for the broader functioning of the international system. The President noted his overriding objective of restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ensuring the Ukrainian people are able to determine their own future without foreign interference. The two leaders committed to stay in touch as events unfold.

Posted by: Nora | Mar 10 2014 16:59 utc | 8

Source material - U.S. Treasury admits that Gulf states openly funding Al-Qaeda in Syria, yet vows to remain allies:

Posted by: Brad | Mar 10 2014 17:30 utc | 9

My interpretation: China told him to get stuffed.

Posted by: bevin | Mar 10 2014 18:13 utc | 10

The Guardian did admit that it was Jabhat al-Nusra, though it was an AFP agency piece.

The kidnappers, Islamist fighters from the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front, "were giving us everything we asked for", she said.

What puzzles me is why the US government didn't intervene with their al-Qa'ida allies to get the nuns released.

Posted by: Alexno | Mar 10 2014 18:15 utc | 11

Bevin #10

That was my read too. But it's hard to separate out what I so desperately want to have happened, from what is most likely to have actually gone on.

Posted by: Nora | Mar 10 2014 18:51 utc | 12

Crimea is an excellent bargaining chip. Russia can choose whether or not to accept it into the Russian Federation, and certainly Putin won't let sentiment enter into his decision. What I think Putin wants is an amicable solution to a Ukraine crisis that has been going on for 20+ years, ever since its independence. He'll bargain for radical autonomy of Crimea and the south and east, and western and central Ukraine. Over the years everyone reasonable has learned that Ukraine just doesn't work, at least not as it continues to be the site of a 'take it all' imperialist battle. The best way to still have 'Ukraine' is just to separate the two sides into 95% independent countries. This would satisfy Putin's goals of denying NATO the Black Sea and pulling the mixed/Russified part of Ukraine up out of a flat-lined, hopelessly corrupt economic state and away from a future in the EU as neoliberal casualty.

Posted by: fairleft | Mar 10 2014 19:59 utc | 13

@fairleft #13 : I agree, this would be real politics. Does Putin have a reliable partner for an agreement? I believe Angela Merkel is turning around and would be trusted by Russia. I read the CDU - Konrad Adenauer Foundation for democracy (sic) here and here. I was surprised.

Posted by: Oui | Mar 10 2014 20:50 utc | 14

USAID was well invested [via NGO Chesno] in Ukrainian MP Hennadii Moskal of the Fatherland party. He gets quoted on the responsibility for the sniper attacks and carnage during Maidan revolt. His US audience gets broad publication via AP newswire to all major blogs and newspapers such as the Washington Post. Even shill reporting by blogger(s) @dKos for anti-Putin oligarchs contribute to the echo chamber of warmongering.

I wrote a diary about MP Moskal's background and his biased comments accusing the Berkut from Crimea for all harm done in Kyiv - Ukraine Partners Chesno (Honestly) - USAID. I debunked most of his bs.

Posted by: Oui | Mar 10 2014 20:51 utc | 15

@15 : not meant for this article.

Posted by: Oui | Mar 10 2014 21:11 utc | 16

of course they had to release them SAA is taking Yabrud any time now so they just hurried to cash in a few millions$.What is happening in Syria now is extraordinary,it is the first real arab revolution a genuine transformation by the state and the people.The West has launched this horrendous war hoping to destroy Syria from within and what are we seeing now?a nation reborn from its ashes ,an incredible resilience and a huge collective will to write together the future as an independent and sovereign nation.The symbiosis at this point of the syrian,iranian and russian souls is amazing.Yes the war is not over but Syria has defeated all its enemies and most importantly has reborn itself.

Posted by: Nobody | Mar 10 2014 21:23 utc | 17

@17 beautifully put.

Posted by: guest77 | Mar 11 2014 1:15 utc | 18

China better have told him to get stuffed. Because if they don't we know what's next: "The Han Tyranny"

Posted by: guest77 | Mar 11 2014 1:19 utc | 19

@5 The pathetic reporting from ("from") the Ukraine has, to me, been the capper of all western media shitshows. So its only right for C.J. Chivers, truly the worst of the worst, to get in on the act.

With him reporting its almost like someone needs to call up the CIA and remind them that Operation Mockingbird is supposed to be clandestine...

Posted by: guest77 | Mar 11 2014 1:24 utc | 20

#8, #10 and #12. My take on Chinese President Xi's comments was that China was very interested in seeing the US dedicate energies solving Ukraine's internal problems because that would be in China's national interests and help with her own problems. What he probably didn't tell Obama that the problems that Xi had in mind were called 'pivot to Asia'.

Posted by: ToivoS | Mar 11 2014 2:20 utc | 21

While China does realise that that the same forces behind the coup will be targeted against them, they can't seem to help playing both sides for advantage.

China has some big investments in Ukraine in agricultural land & they likely figure they can easily outbid the western corporations for the rest.

The more chaos, the cheaper they can pick it up, while the western corporations, inspite of their funding of the various pro-western groups will be wary of putting any money into Ukraine without guarantees (which are going to be small & pretty meaningless in real terms).
The Chinese are also probably eyeing what's left of Ukraine's industry as a way to backdoor into the EU market (much the same way as various western players were looking to backdoor into the Russian market).

Likely the Western neo-liberal world will stick to what they are good at - trading debt, while the endless proliferation of the 'lobbying/ngo/thiuktank' industry continues to grow & grow.

This will have some very interesting fallout.

Posted by: KenM | Mar 11 2014 2:58 utc | 22

"China has some big investments in Ukraine in agricultural land & they likely figure they can easily outbid the western corporations for the rest."

One of the problems here is that the land in question is the property of the Ukrainian people, whatever language or dialect they may speak. In this entire conflict the one group from whom we have not heard are the ordinary people.
We have heard from the fascists living in their weird fantasy land but, very practically, looking for the chance to sell/traffic the entire population.
We have heard from the silly "intellectuals" who worship the west and shudder at the thought of life without blue jeans and tenth rate pop music.
And we have heard from those who want nothing to do with either school of vulgarity but we haven't seen a strike or even a protest against the Kiev Cabal's promise of austerity, pension cuts and unemployment.
The working class has been quiet. And so, unless I am mistaken (see below) have the peasantry in this famously fertile land.
Caveat: I may be entirely wrong. I know of no news sources which do not regularly deny the existence of classes and which routinely ignore massive protests against austerity and unemployment. So I may be quite mistaken, I certainly hope so.

Posted by: bevin | Mar 11 2014 23:29 utc | 23

The case with Chinese investments in Ukraine has an interesting twist. China looks like it might have been swindled by the Ukrainians. They bought $3 billion of wheat, cash up front, and were only delivered $ 0.2 billion worth. They are now suing for their money back or title to some land that may been held as collateral. I read another story recently where an international tele com invested $50 million dollars to upgrade the Kiev land line system. After 6 months all the money was gone and none of the subcontractors had done any of work as promised. That country is so incredibly corrupt, it is amazing that anyone would give them payment up front.

Posted by: ToivoS | Mar 11 2014 23:54 utc | 24

Shortly after the US banned the Syrian Ambassador anywhere outside of 25 miles around New York, Syria ordered closing of its Embassies in the US, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait despite the sudden and surprising (though chiefly PR) decision of Saudi Arabia to blacklist the main branches of al Qaeda in Syria, which compromised the bulk of the expeditionary force there--supported by the Saudis and its allies, including the US and its allies.

Posted by: brian | Mar 12 2014 3:32 utc | 25

Syria 24 English
President #Bashar_Assad has been conferred a medal of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences by members of the Russian parliament today. The President has also been given a certificate of membership in the Academy in recognition of his defense of his people’s national interests and his efforts in strengthening the capacity of the country’s government and defense and for his role in tightening the Syrian-Russian relations.......... M.D......

Posted by: brian | Mar 12 2014 3:34 utc | 26

We are watching the Death of American "democracy" - some will point out that its been a long slow agonizing death, and that it was a very flawed Democracy anyway. It may be said that this is not new, but no one will be able to deny that it is a new low .I guess we should be glad in one way -there is no more reason to agonize over western media no doing its vitally important job than it is to agonize over a parent in an nursing home who no longer recognizes who we are. At least when the final end comes the agonized will have been long over.

Posted by: Solerso | Mar 16 2014 4:50 utc | 27

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