Syria’s eloquent Ambassador to the US, Imad Moustapha has taken offence to an article which I called “the best in a decade“.
In a letter to the author of the National Geographic story, Moustapha has issued a detailed critique of a list of points which he calls inaccurate. Josh Landis at Syria Comment has republished the letter.
The Ambassador says: “This piece, laden with inaccuracies and disinformation, was a misrepresentation of the Syria that I belong to, and the National Geographic that I have read for decades.”
While I agree that the article makes a number of negative points – in effect, laying out the ‘neo-conservative’ criticisms of Syria – it is also very positive in parts, and optimistic for the country’s future under Bashar Al-Assad.
Here is a list of the Ambassador’s complaints:
– the title
– the mafia intro
– pointing out “Iranian pilgrims at the Omayyad Mosque”
– hearing screams from Bab Touma police station
– accusing Syria of having “cosied up” to the USSR
– saying relations with the US were “never good”
– saying Bashar admits Syria’s state of disrepair
– saying “regime officials…flaunting their unfettered power by padding around town in the pajamas”
– calling Syria “ethnically volatile”
– saying Syria’s leaders are like a bunch of “Beverly Hillbillies”
– underplaying the Muslim Brotherhood threat, during the siege of Hama
– talk of corruption, but no talk of the efficient private sector
– cramming Syria’s many improvements into one small paragraph
– using Orientalist terms to describe Aleppo (“a medieval mosh pit of shopkeepers, food vendors, gold merchants, donkey carts, craftsmen, trinket peddlers, beggars, and hustlers of all stripes, moving in a great colorful clanking parade of goat bells and sandaled feet”)
– contradictions in the claims that the Old City of Aleppo was going to be demolished in the 1970s
– the trip to a factory where workers describe losing their fingers
– reducing Syria’s culture to the following sentence: “it’s hard to find a bookstore that isn’t full of communist-era tracts”, and ignoring the progressive literature on sale and events being held
– claiming the Hariri investigation “led to Assad’s doorstep”
– saying there is a “cloud of fear” hanging over Syria, where no one dares “say a word”
The Ambassador’s critique and the original article are both well worth a read.