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article imageSyria Files: Western media advice for Syria ineffective

By Anne Sewell     Jul 7, 2012 in World
New WikiLeaks files show that Syria received guidance from a private communications firm on how to fight the massive media battle launched by the West.
In the release of the Syria Files by WikiLeaks, information is already coming to light on Western intervention and assistance in Syria.
The advice was given by global communications firm, Brown Lloyd James. They advised on how to regain the trust of the U.S. administration, as well as Syria's own people. Seems this was an epic fail.
An email to senior Asma al-Assad aide Fares Kallas on May 19 2011 reads:
“Reform-oriented outreach must be dramatically improved, at home and abroad, or else the credibility of these efforts - and a key part of the President’s appeal and popularity among the people - will be diminished. Refocusing the perception of outsiders and Syrians on reform will provide political cover to the generally sympathetic US Government, and will delegitimize critics at home and abroad.”
The email stressed the importance of launching a public "reform" program in order to address the demands and grievances of the Syrian public. This visible campaign should include hiring street teams in Syrian communities to poll ordinary citizens. An "echo-chamber" should be set up outside of Syria to report on Bashar al-Assad's plans to conduct reforms and call for stability in the country.
In an effort to show the public that the Syrian government justly prosecutes all law breakers, the public relations firm advised the government to hold soldiers accountable for their actions, when caught violating the state's order not to fire at unarmed civilians. It is important that Syria prosecute these law breakers, whether from the opposition or the Syrian armed forces.
In other words, the Syrian government was counseled to give a sense of law and order in the country. The firm said that it is important for a gradual reform, in a climate of peace and stability.
The email further said that Syria must also “improve its ability to contain negative media stories circulated by opposition figures living outside Syria.” The Syrian government was advised to set up a 24-hour media monitoring and response system, with assets in the U.K. and U.S. markets, to keep an eye on social media websites and to remove false sites.
It seems that the sound advice given to Syria has had no effect on improving the image of the government, which is portrayed in a negative light by most Western media outlets.
According to the Washington Post, this particular WikiLeaks document also "blows a rather large hole" in a statement made by Brown Lloyd James in August last year, that “its work for the Syrian government ended in December 2010.”
In an interview with Russian news channel Rossiya-24, Bashar al-Assad admits himself that the Western Media had outplayed the Syrian government right from the start of the crisis, by "making up stories" and proliferating rumors. He stated that the media war had been lost the very day it began.
More about Wikileaks, syria files, Syria, Media, Advice
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